The Construction Platform

The Construction Platform (CP) will tune the research of the Studio to the needs of scholars in the humanities and social sciences in universities and research institutes, the client-partners of the Studio. All projects in the Construction Platform are the result of partnerships with external research groups. This will usually mean that projects are run under a dual scientific management. Each project is led by a Studio researcher who is responsible for the project management and the dissemination of its results.

The research infrastructure of the Platform is based on the needs of the research projects and is also the result of these projects. The Studio will start with a modest computer network in which two different operating systems can seamlessly work together: MS Windows and Unix/Mac OS X. The latter operating system will be used for development and design tasks, data visualisation and data mining. The intellectual infrastructure is the combination of knowledge provided by the external partners and by the Analytic Centre. This infrastructure is dynamic: each project can draw upon it and affect it by its specific needs, and its results will be added as a new layer or set of skills to the infrastructure. We expect that this layered-growth model will lead to the gradual rise of the Studio as a centre of expertise in a number of areas. This may mean that more intense requirements need to be fulfilled by the technological infrastructure of the Studio. To anticipate this, we will prepare an application to NWO Groot for a Humanities & Social Science Grid Application in coordination with the Dutch Grid Forum organisation.

The CP contributes to the development of informatics oriented to the humanities and social sciences. This entails both the fundamental question whether specific approaches within informatics need to be developed in order to address crucial problems in the humanities and social sciences as well as project-specific research questions. The distribution of projects over the three research themes of the Studio does not have to be equal, but is determined by the needs of the humanities and social science communities. Within the theme Data and Digital Information, specific attention will be paid to questions of data and source representation and data analytical tools. Within the theme Networked Research, the building and analysis of collaboratories and the development of collaborative Web based analytical tools has priority. Within the theme Virtual Institutions, the use of emerging institutional structures and new roles of the humanities and social sciences in governance and global markets will be given special attention. However, these priorities may change on the basis of the needs that emerge from the acquired projects.

The acquisition of new research projects may lead to the formation of new partnerships, for which the programme leader of the Studio carries the main responsibility. Research projects are brought in on a competitive basis by making use of the established quality control mechanisms that have been developed in the scholarly and scientific communities by universities and NWO. This way of project acquisition is meant to ensure that the work in the Studio is tuned to the core intellectual issues in the humanities and social sciences and does not start to live a life of its own. It may also help prevent capture of this program by vested interests in computer technology. In practice, this means that research groups are invited on the basis of their research performance. For example, winners of NWO prizes, new members of the KNAW, and research groups that have acquired prestigious international funding will be approached to discuss possible projects that may be of use for the further development of their research practice. Once a project has been selected, the project team may be housed in the Studio for the duration of the project, or the project researcher(s) may be located in the research group of the external partner.

The Studio organises a yearly Summer School about e-Research and workshops for PhD students and postdocs in collaboration with the Graduate Research Schools. This is oriented towards new generations of scholars and social scientists. The CP maintains a suite of Websites that can also be used as a repository for university based researchers where they can find tools and ideas for new interdisciplinary analytical and methodological approaches, and new ways to make use of the Web and the internet in scholarly research.