Towards research infrastructure: data cultures and research platforms
|Year of publication||2019|
|MU Faculty or unit|
Preparing local node of LINDAT/CLARIAH-CZ research e-infrastructure for arts and humanities, we needed to identify all digital research platforms existing at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University (FA MUNI) and to select those that are suitable for engagement from the beginning. Because scientific data and data cultures are building blocks of research e-infrastructure (Edwards – Jackson – Bowker – Knobel, 2007), we needed to find out what data formats and metadata are produced and collected in digital platforms, and what is the data culture of the workplaces that create them. In accordance with Human Centered Design principles, we were also interested in the needs of the “web of users” (Millerand – Baker, 2010).
The survey of the digital platforms was carried out by a questionnaire distributed to the heads of the departments. If the questionnaire was not filled in even after a repeated call, we contacted the head of the department by phone and the necessary data was collected by phone interview. As a result, 24 departments participated in the research, operating or developing a total of 50 digital research platforms. In order to decide which research platforms are ready and suitable for involvement in the research infrastructure we grouped them by their purpose and each category was evaluated. We conducted semi-structured interviews with managers and developers of research platforms that were evaluated as potentially suitable for integration into the e-infrastructure.
Findings and originality
We have identified six categories of digital research platforms: (a) bibliographic databases; (b) digital libraries (textual, multi-medial); (c) geographic information systems; (d) reference materials (encyclopaedias, dictionaries including explanatory); (e) research data collections; (f) language corpora. The results of semi-structured interviews with managers and developers showed their needs, common themes in motivation, but also different approaches to data, such as willingness to open the content of the platforms or to solve questions concerning long-term preservation of scientific data. The paper captures the state of research infrastructure at the moment of its formation in one local node and the impact of data culture on the infrastructuring of digital research platforms.