Research themes

The Studio will concentrate its work in three research themes

  • Data and Digital Information: the role of data, digital information and data standards in scholarly research
  • Networked Research: novel forms of collaboration and communication in the humanities and social sciences
  • Virtual Institutions: the emergence and dynamics of new institutional arrangements in e-research.

Data and digital information play complex roles in research in the humanities and social sciences. This creates particular challenges for the application of e-research methods and techniques, especially if complex and fuzzy data sets are involved (eg. visual data, music, complex texts). The increased availability of digital resources, data and collections, partly the result of digitisation of cultural heritage and of administrative databases, affects the very core of humanities and social science research by changing existing research objects and creating new ones. The theme Data and Digital Information will address the question of which characteristics these new research objects will and should have, and how they may reconfigure scholarly research. What type of questions will be foregrounded and which questions may become less central? Which assumptions are built into the new epistemic objects and how may they influence the boundaries between scientific specialties? We will also pay attention to the specificity of qualitative data. They are often more fuzzy and less easy to standardise. The Studio research will strive to complement existing research into scientific and scholarly data and data standards by focusing on the epistemic and social role of data and data sources in the humanities and social sciences. Additional attention will be given to issues of data sharing and the specific problems related to the use of Web data in scholarly work.

The humanities and social sciences are a particularly interesting area to study the development of scientific and scholarly collaboration because the variation of forms of collaboration and non-collaboration is so huge. Virtually every possible configuration is practiced in one field or another. The Studio research in the theme Networked Research will focus on the way the new media interact with forms of collaboration and communication. It moreover aims to support scholars with building new forms of collaboration (eg. collaboratories) and communication (eg. new Web site conceptions). A key issue concerns the ways the dynamics of collaboration are affected by mediation by digital communication networks. How does the technological possibility intersect with traditional human needs for communication? The implications of collaborative work for the resulting knowledge products will also be studied. How are forms of knowledge affected by the way they need to be communicated? Which types of intellectual work seem amenable to virtualisation and digitisation?

In e-research, digital infrastructures and emergent institutions play a crucial role. Collaboratories, research infrastructures or the lack thereof, digital libraries, digital repositories and collections, and new venues for scholarly publication directly influence the extent to which scholars in the humanities and social sciences can effectively make use of new research possibilities. Given the recent emergence of e-research, the consequences of the accompanying institutional rearrangement is not yet well understood. The theme Virtual Institutions will explore which institutional arrangements are conducive to the humanities and social sciences. This should help to understand the specificities of institution building in the humanities and social sciences. Important questions are also: how does the textual nature of digital infrastructures affect textual practices of researchers and scholars? How does infrastructure sustain various levels of formalisation and circulation of knowledge and information? How universities and research institutes have organised their systems of quality control and accountability may have a profound effect on knowledge creation because of its impact on the criteria of scientific and scholarly quality and integrity. What are the implications of new e-research information infrastructures for regimes of quality control in universities and research institutes?