Research Infrastructures for the Humanities and Social Sciences

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1 Research Infrastructures for the Humanities and Social Sciences RESEARCH

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3 Research Infrastructures for the Humanities and Social Sciences RESEARCH

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5 Foreword Foreword Well-established research infrastructures are a key to outstanding scientific and academic achievements. This is true not only for the natural sciences and engineering, but also for the humanities and social sciences. Scholars and researchers in the humanities and social sciences in Germany rely on libraries and collections along with archives, mainframe computers and software in order to produce excellent results. These research infrastructures involve substantial costs and are supported by the German Federal Government, the Länder, municipalities, foundations and other funding organisations. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been supporting the expansion of existing research infrastructures for many years with a view to enhancing the range of methods used for research in the humanities and social sciences. New digital technologies in particular have broadened the range of options available to scholars and researchers immensely. Ongoing improvements in computing power combined with the use of special software are paving the way for new research approaches as virtual working environments bring together researchers from around the world to take part in interdisciplinary projects. to expand the opportunities for research in the humanities and social sciences and illustrates those avenues of research that can be better pursued, or even explored in the first place, thanks to new digital technologies. It also shows where room for improvement can still be made and the developments likely to occur over the coming years. It is obvious that research infrastructures both require and promote international cooperation. This is reflected in the strong involvement of German partners in all five humanities and social science projects conducted under the auspices of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Additional efforts need to be undertaken to establish these infrastructures permanently and make them available to all scholars and researchers. The BMBF is happy to make a significant contribution to this endeavour. Prof. Johanna Wanka Federal Minister of Education and Research This brochure provides an overview of BMBF funding for research infrastructures in the humanities and social sciences. It provides evidence of the efforts that have been made over the past few years

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7 Contents 1 Contents Foreword Introduction... Outstanding research in the humanities and social sciences requires advanced research infrastructures research infrastructures in the social sciences... The development of social science research infrastructures is a success story... Excellent conditions for empirical research... The German Data Forum ensures nationwide coordination... Enhancing infrastructure with ESFRI paves the way for Europe-wide networking... An example of how an ESFRI project works: SHARE... The parallel development of national and European research infrastructures is vital... European activity acts as a trigger for national efforts research infrastructures in the humanities... Digital infrastructures are changing the nature of work in the humanities... The humanities are gaining ground with innovative research infrastructures... Networked research environments for the humanities: TextGrid... Towards Europe-wide research infrastructures: DARIAH and CLARIN... Virtual research infrastructures are complex ecosystems... A powerful boost from national project funding: ehumanities... ehumanities: sample projects Collections at research museums and universities... Museums, institutions of higher education and research institutes are networking their collections Field reports from researchers in the humanities and the social sciences... From the field outlook for research infrastructures... The course has been set for future research infrastructures

8 2 Introduction Networked worldwide: Researchers in the humanities and the social sciences increasingly collaborate via the Internet. Institutions such as the Göttingen State and University Library provide the required infrastructure

9 Introduction 3 Outstanding research in the humanities and social sciences requires advanced research infrastructures Scholars and scientists require modern, well-established research infrastructures to conduct effective and internationally competitive research. To promote the development and expansion of research infrastructures in the humanities and social sciences, the German Federal Ministry of education and Research (BMBF) has launched specific funding initiatives that primarily target today s new digital technologies. After all, research and development in the humanities and social sciences is increasingly taking place above and beyond geographic boundaries via the internet. Anyone conducting research requires cutting-edge, well-established research infrastructures: institutions, facilities, data, resources and services. Public interest in this issue usually focuses on large-scale facilities in the natural sciences and technical disciplines, such as particle accelerators, research ships and laboratories. Nevertheless, research infrastructures also include scientific collections and archives, state-of-the-art computers and software. Whether they are present, what state they are in, and whether they remain up to date in our rapidly evolving technological world are all factors that ultimately determine whether research is possible at all, and what quality these research results offer. Indeed, in addition to providing researchers with new methods and tools, the latest digital technologies and infrastructure also pave the way for entirely new approaches to exchanging information and collaborating with international colleagues from a wide range of disciplines. In many areas, Germany has an extremely well-established research infrastructure that safeguards, among other things, the leading position enjoyed by the country s academic and scientific community and the strength of its achievements. In order to secure and enhance this level of performance, it is necessary to maintain and develop research infrastructures on an ongoing basis. Research in the humanities and social sciences of course also depends on highly developed infrastructures. Large-scale facilities do not play a role in the infrastructure of these disciplines, rather the foundation for research is based on working with collections, searching in archives and libraries, and processing research data. In addition to such traditional infrastructures, digital infrastructures have been increasingly gaining importance for a number of years now. Here the focus is on collecting and processing digital texts, images and other data. Developments in state-of-the-art information and communications technologies are expanding the range of research opportunities. The latest generation of technologies makes work easier for researchers and provides better access to resources. At the same time, it allows for new forms of collaboration among scholars and scientists. For example, through virtual research environments in which individuals can work together, regardless of their location. Furthermore, entirely new research approaches have been made possible by the development of innovative technological processes, such as text mining a method of analysing texts based on computer algorithms. These advances also include semantic web methods and approaches that work with the visualisation of complex data. The humanities and social sciences have some catching up to do Researchers in engineering and natural sciences recognised early on the enormous opportunities and potential offered by information technology and used these for their work, for instance, by remotely accessing digitised data. By contrast, the humanities and social sciences were rather slow to embrace the opportunities of the digital age. Thanks to its targeted funding, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has helped significantly to bridge this gap in digital research infrastructures. It should be noted, however, that the initial conditions were very different in the social sciences and the humanities.

10 4 Introduction with the foundation of the German data Forum, the BMBF has established a body that the German Council of Science and Humanities has rated as a successful initiative to support self-organisation among the research community. Focus on social sciences: Improving access to official statistics In the quantitatively oriented social sciences there was primarily a need to establish access to data from official statistics and pension insurance funds, and to achieve overall improvements in the informational infrastructure. The impetus came from empirical research, and in 2001 the Commission on Improving the Informational Infrastructure between Science and Statistics (KVI) compiled a comprehensive catalogue of recommendations for this area (see pp ). In addition, the BMBF has funded a series of pilot projects over the past few years (see pp ). These aim to establish permanent, institutional, technical and methodological access to official statistics and process-produced data for the economics and social sciences fields. This has resulted in the initiation of a dialogue among data producers and researchers, and the creation of a legal framework that gives researchers privileged access to this data. This process has been launched successfully and continuously pursued. With the foundation of the German Data Forum, the BMBF has established a body that the German Council of Science and Humanities has rated as a successful initiative to support self-organisation among the research community (see pp ). Focus on the humanities: Advancing of digital research infrastructures The humanities already have a well-established tradition of research infrastructures, with archives and libraries that primarily contain texts, but also audiovisual media. When it comes to the development and expansion of digital research infrastructures, however, the humanities still lag behind other academic and scientific fields. Consequently, in its 2011 report Recommendations on Research Infrastructures in Humanities and Social Sciences the German Council of Science and Humanities accorded great importance to the development of informational and social infrastructures, and came out in favour of making greater use of digital technology in the humanities. The advantages offered by modern technologies are obvious: Texts and media are accessible around the globe and remain available for additional computerbased applications. In turn, this digital availability makes it possible to achieve research results based on quantitative evaluations. These have long ceased to be merely auxiliary sciences, as witnessed at the Digital Humanities Congress of the Worldwide Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations, held in July 2012 in Hamburg, where a German section was founded. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research and funding organisations such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) support this development and provide funding for a wide range of projects based on the enhanced research opportunities in the humanities, also known as the enhanced humanities or ehumanities for short. Improved integration of scientific collections in the national research landscape BMBF funding to improve research infrastructures in the humanities also focuses on scientific collections in museums, universities and libraries (see pp ). Collections also play a key role in the research infrastructure landscape, as the German Council of Science and Humanities emphasised in its 2011 report Recommendations on Scientific Collections as Research Infrastructures. BMBF funding aims to strengthen university collections, which are not always up to the latest standards, and to integrate them more effectively into the national research landscape. Support can be obtained here from the research museums of the Leibniz Association, which have extensive experience in maintaining collections. Research based on museum objects is also to be generally improved. To press ahead with this goal, the BMBF published a call for proposals

11 Introduction 5 in 2012 entitled Die Sprache der Objekte. Materielle Kultur im Kontext gesellschaftlicher Entwicklungen (The Language of Objects. Material Culture within the Context of Social Developments) in which it called for museums, universities and extramural institutions to develop projects with object-based research from their own collections. Furthermore, the German Council of Science and Humanities identified libraries as an essential component of the scientific and academic information infrastructure. There is a need for action focussed primarily on expanding the library networking system. National research infrastructures are networked across europe At a European level, research infrastructures also play a key role in the generation of new knowledge and technologies along with their usage, and this has prompted the European Commission to support their development and expansion in conjunction with the member states. Indeed, the EU Research Framework Programme has dedicated an entire section to this topic. This funding, which fosters the development of the common European Research Area, focuses on the following goals: Research infrastructures are to be strategically expanded across Europe, nationally financed research infrastructures are to be networked at a European level, and cooperation among them should be encouraged. The European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) was founded in 2002 to achieve these objectives. It is the Forum s responsibility to formulate a European strategy for the development of research infrastructures, identify new research infrastructures of European interest, and further their implementation through transnational projects. For an overview of the focus of funding see Forschungsinfrastrukturen in den Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften (Research Infrastructures in the Humanities and Social Sciences) published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): YY (in German) YY Current BMBF calls for proposals are presented on this webpage: YY (in German) On the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020: YY horizont2020.htm (in German) Information on the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is available on the following web pages: YY ndex_en.cfm?pg=esfri YY (in German) Consulting services on European programmes to promote research infrastructures are offered by: The National Contact Point for Research Infrastructures: YY (in German) The National Contact Point for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities: YY Germany is currently taking part in five ESFRI projects in the area of the humanities and social sciences (see pp ). Promoting research infrastructures will also be an area of focus for the upcoming EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020.

12 6 Research infrastructures in the social sciences research excellence requires innovative and advanced research infrastructures: The cutting-edge research data centre run by GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne

13 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 7 The development of social science research infrastructures is a success story In recent years, funding organisations, researchers and data producers have made significant efforts to improve research conditions in quantitative social sciences, economics and behavioural sciences, as well as in the area of public health. Today, Germany ranks among the leading countries for research infrastructures. Prof. Gert G. wagner, chairman of the German data Forum (ratswd), comments on this development in an interview. Prof. Wagner, would it be an exaggeration to say that Germany s development of research infrastructures in the social sciences is a success story? No, by no means. We have established nearly 25 research data and data service centres that all work together within the German Data Forum. This is a unique and unparalleled achievement. These infrastructures are used intensively and have already paved the way for a wide range of publications and new discoveries. Prof. Gert G. wagner Prof. Wagner is an economist and social scientist who teaches empirical economic research and economic policy at the Technische Universität Berlin. He is also a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) and a member of the Executive Board of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. He is also the chairman of the German government s Census Commission, the German Data Forum, and a member of numerous other committees. With the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), he has established one of the world s largest and most frequently used longitudinal studies. Prof. Wagner was a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities from 2002 to What was special about this process? That it was achieved in the first place. In the 1990s when the process began, no one had given any thought to the term research infrastructure, although there have been research infrastructure facilities in the natural sciences for decades, for example, the CERN laboratory in Switzerland, which has cost billions. There were previously small research infrastructures in the social sciences, like the General German Social Survey (ALLBUS), but they were viewed as something different. For a long time, staff at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) referred to auxiliary research facilities. Following an initiative by the German Federal Research Ministry in the late 1990s, the Commission on Improving the Informational Infrastructure between Science and Statistics, or KVI was established. In its 2001 report, it recommended establishing research data centres and data service centres, and placing the German Data Forum above this as an umbrella organisation. This was very rapidly implemented by the German government, and it is a genuine success story. What have the German Data Forum s tasks been in this respect? Based on the recommendations of a founding committee, the Forum was established by the German government in 2004 to advise it on all matters concerning data production, data security and data usage in the social sciences. The members of the Forum were appointed by the ministry responsible for research, in this case the BMBF. The Forum s greatest accomplishment has been to bring together representatives of the academic research and infrastructure community and their counterparts working in the production of official statistics and departmental research institutions. What areas for improvement still exist in social science infrastructures and what tasks does this entail for the Forum? There are still numerous tasks for the German Data Forum. For instance, additional data producers should

14 8 Research infrastructures in the social sciences Georeferencing data will be one of the great challenges facing researchers over the coming years. Prof. Gert G. Wagner be encouraged to establish research data centres. In addition to research on children and youth, there is enormous potential in health sciences and geodata. The latter have become particularly interesting because they can be increasingly combined with social science and medical data on a local scale. Georeferencing data will be one of the great challenges facing researchers over the coming years. Furthermore, we still note a need for improving access to data in research data centres. How could access be improved? In my opinion, a joint internet portal for research data centres should be established to allow young and upcoming researchers, in particular, to access research data more directly. The Forum, the research data centres and their support organisations should also endeavour to improve the statistical and methodological training at colleges and universities. A stricter and at the same time more research-friendly system of data protection ranks among the major challenges of the future. Why is data protection becoming increasingly important? Georeferencing offers enormous potential for scientific research, but it also entails major data protection issues. After all, if you can locate an individual on a local scale, there is a greater risk of deanonymisation. As a result, so-called controlled data processing methods via the internet will probably also gain in importance. This would mean that researchers no longer receive the data on their own computers, but access this information via a protected portal, calculate their results and only receive their findings. How are things looking for young researchers? Junior scholars and researchers in the quantitative disciplines of social science, economics, behavioural sciences and health sciences in Germany are better Training seminars for future generations of young researchers: The German Data Forum and the research data centres aim to improve the statistical and methodological training of up-andcoming young scholars and researchers at colleges and universities trained today than ever before. Training seminars are continuously being offered, particularly at the research data centres. The university system is on the right track, in my opinion, because these seminars are for the most part not conducted by the research data centres alone, but in collaboration with the universities. Personally speaking, I think it is very important that there is generally better academic appreciation for the work done by scholars and researchers, and young individuals in particular, who invest a great deal of time in data production for research institutes and official statistics. Data production is not an auxiliary function; it is a highly demanding scientific activity. It should be honoured with the usual recognitions, from doctorates to academic rewards. How does the situation look in terms of infrastructures for the qualitative social sciences? There is disagreement within the qualitative social sciences over whether infrastructures are necessary in the first place. As a quantitative researcher, I personally think that research infrastructures in the

15 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 9 area of qualitative research are extremely important. Science is based on the reproducibility of results. When qualitative studies are not archived and not accessible they cannot be reproduced. I have the impression that there will be perhaps a handful of centres over the coming years that attend to archiving and providing access to research infrastructures in the area of qualitative social sciences. Quantitative analyses are also gaining importance in the humanities, as seen by the development of ehumanities. What is your view of the processes there? Due to the nature of their subject area, the humanities are considerably more heterogeneous than disciplines in the areas of social science, behavioural science and economics. It is interesting to note, however, that there are large-scale humanities projects within the scope of EU research funding, such as CLARIN and DARIAH. This is very promising, although these institutions are There should be better academic appreciation for the work of scholars and researchers who invest a great deal of time in data production. Prof. Gert G. Wagner only productive for certain approaches in the humanities. There are now numerous project funding options, ranging from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to foundations such as the VW Foundation and direct project funding through the German Ministry of Education and Research, meaning that researchers in the humanities with sound proposals also have a chance of establishing research infrastructures. In the humanities, for instance, there are excellent opportunities to launch projects in collaboration with large, specialised libraries. An interdisciplinary approach: Subject-specific working groups work on the data infrastructure, such as here at the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

16 10 Research infrastructures in the social sciences Outstanding conditions for empirical research Researchers in the social sciences and the field of economics need reliable and up to date data to be able to conduct realistic studies and use this to make credible recommendations. In the past, they often had only very limited access to such information. Yet today, Germany s data infrastructure in the areas of social sciences and economics has assumed a leading international position. Germany s statistical offices at the federal and state level, the Federal Employment Agency, and the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (responsible for managing the German Pension Fund) have a wealth of data on individuals, households and companies gathered from random samples and nationwide surveys. In the past, this information was only available to researchers as published tables, but not accessible to its full extent because it was not gathered and processed for scientific purposes. To make matters worse, it was stored at different locations. In the 1990s, researchers in the social sciences and the field of economics campaigned for privileged access to this information, while still ensuring personal and institutional data protection. The BMBF initiated a funding process in 1999 to achieve this goal with the founding of the Commission on Improving the Informational Infrastructure between Science and Statistics (KVI) and the implementation of its recommendations. Consequently, Germany s data infrastructure in the area of social sciences and economics ranks among the best in the world. Germany s empirical researchers enjoy outstanding conditions and the country s research landscape attracts numerous scholars and scientists from around the globe, including American labour market researchers and psychologists. The BMBF provides systematic support at three levels: Establishing research data centres and data service centres Promoting projects focussing on methods Appointing the German Data Forum Paving the way for internationally competitive research (photos pp ): The specialists at the research data centres develop new digital services based on innovative technologies and provide assistance for more effective utilisation of these resources

17 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 11 Accessing data at GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences research data and data service centres improve data access A key milestone in establishing and securing a permanent information infrastructure in Germany was achieved with the foundation of research data centres by major data producers along with data service centres at scientific institutions. Both of these measures were recommended by the KVI. Research data centres centralise and facilitate access to microdata for researchers and, at the same time, guarantee data protection. Users are given access to files for scientific use that only contain anonymised data. Additional access options include guest researcher work stations at the centres and controlled teleprocessing. By contrast, data service centres focus on empirical work, including improved data documentation, the establishment of metadata portals and qualified user assistance. The BMBF has funded four pilot projects on the design and testing of research data centres: at the Federal Statistical Office; at the Statistical Offices of the Länder; at the Federal Employment Agency; at the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund. It has also funded two additional data service centres: at the Central Archive for Empirical Social Research at the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences; at the Institute for the Study of Labour. Today, there are 25 centres in Germany accredited by the German Data Forum that give researchers quality-assured access to research data concerning various aspects of life in Germany. In view of the growing number of data centres, there is likely to be an increasing emphasis on organising exchanges and joint activities among individual facilities. To accomplish this, the German Data Forum founded the Standing Committee on Research Data Infrastructure in Methods projects open doors for empirical research In addition to developing research and data service centres, the BMBF has funded a series of methods projects since 1999 to improve data quality and protection. Linking various databases eg company data from the Federal Employment Agency with the German statistical offices creates new avenues for research but also places new demands on the anonymisation of data. Consequently, the methods projects funded by the BMBF created new and comprehensive databases and developed new approaches for analysis and output control.

18 12 Research infrastructures in the social sciences Quality assurance: The research data centres at the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences archive data according to the highest quality standards

19 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 13 55,000 firms were asked for permission to link their data as part of the Combined Company Data for Germany (KombiFiD) project. 16,000 companies reacted positively. The KombiFiD dataset now combines microdata from the statistical offices, the Institute for Employment Research, and additional data producers, and is intensively used by researchers for a wide range of studies. Complex data protection issues are among the focuses of the project entitled GRV-Region 2010: Further Development of Regionalised Data Output and Establishment of a Regional Data Pool. In order to utilise the range of regional data collected by Germany s statutory pension insurer for scientific purposes, researchers first had to find solutions to permanently anonymise the data without sacrificing regional depth. The Biographical Data of Selected Social Insurance Agencies in Germany (BASiD) project links data from the Federal Employment Agency and Germany s statutory pension insurer. The dataset generated by both sources has a high scientific potential for analysis and is generating a great deal of interest among researchers in the social sciences. The RDC in RDC (FDZ-im-FDZ) project launched in 2010 provides decentralised access via secure data centres to data made available by the Federal Employment Agency. This involved establishing guest researcher work places at four state statistical offices and the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Researchers are already making intensive use of this opportunity, particularly in the United States. An additional project with the statistical offices is currently in preparation. The goal here is to give researchers better access to data in official registers, for example, at resident registration offices. Researchers currently still receive this data with a delay of a number of years. The established social science research infrastructure is used intensively, as confirmed by the Third Report on Germany s Socio-Economic Development (soeb 3). The soeb project produces reports on the socio-economic development of German society and has been funded by the BMBF since In the upcoming third project phase, it will increasingly utilise the newly created infrastructure for micro and macrodata and apply this to individual research topics. A complex virtual working environment will be created for the project: an internet platform that provides access to data, serves as a hub for work and communication, and hosts publications with research results. The Commission on Improving the Informational Infrastructure between Science and Statistics (KVI) Ways of Improving Informational Infrastructure (2001) report: YY Overview of research data and data service centres: YY rdc Additional information on individual projects: Combined Company Data for Germany (KombiFiD) YY aspx Further Development of Regionalised Data Output and Establishment of a Regional Data Pool (GRV- Region 2010): YY de/fdzportalweb/dispcontent.do?id=main_fdz_ english Biographical Data of Selected Social Insurance Agencies in Germany (BASiD): YY basid/working-tools.aspx RDC in RDC (FDZ-im-FDZ, PFiF): YY aspx/projektdetails/k Third Report on Germany s Socio-Economic Development (soeb 3): YY

20 14 Research infrastructures in the social sciences The German Data Forum ensures nationwide coordination established in 2004, the German data Forum provides recommendations that help researchers and politicians as they strategically enhance Germany s data infrastructure. An additional result of the recommendations made in 2001 by the Commission on Improving the Informational Infrastructure between Science and Statistics (KVI) was the foundation of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) which began its work in This important body makes recommendations that support researchers and politicians as they pursue the ongoing strategic development of Germany s data infrastructure. The Forum was appointed by the German government and has an equal number of representatives from the scientific and data-production communities. In concrete terms, its mission consists of guiding and monitoring the process of improving Germany s information infrastructure. It also ensures that German developments are presented internationally and observes changes in the research structures of the social sciences around the world. Furthermore, the Forum establishes new standards for data quality and plays an important role during development in advising, initiating and assuring the quality of research data and data service centres. RatSWD is also responsible for accrediting the centres. The work of RatSWD was evaluated positively by the German Council of Science and Humanities in It was held up as a great example of support for the scientific community s own efforts to establish an efficient and advanced research infrastructure. Today, its range of work has expanded to include further areas of scientific research that take a quantitative approach, such as psychology, education and media studies, along with qualitative social studies. An increasing number of data producers have also joined the effort. Newcomers here include Germany s central bank, the Bundesbank, and the Helmholtz Association. Pushing ahead with ongoing strategic development: RatSWD has established new standards for data quality

21 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 15 Maintaining the focus on users: The GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany s largest infrastructure facility for the social sciences, provides transregional and internationally significant research-related services Subject-specific and topic-oriented working groups are examining the data infrastructure for geographic data, regional price comparisons, mortality registers, crime statistics and innovative means of accessing data, such as future data access processes, in order to plan further developments. RatSWD has established itself as an effective means of communicating and coordinating the interests of researchers and data producers. ongoing support thanks to institutional infrastructure facilities The BMBF also provides ongoing institutional funding for social science infrastructures. The largest of these infrastructures in Germany is the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. With over 250 staff members at three locations (Mannheim, Cologne and Berlin), GESIS delivers essential transregional and internationally significant researchrelated services, such as the central archiving of survey data and, in particular, the development of new survey and analysis methods. The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) is a representative, longitudinal survey that has been conducted for the past 25 years. There are now more than 30,000 individuals in some 15,000 households in Germany who are surveyed every year on behalf of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. The data collected provides information on aspects such as income, employment, health and education. Since the same individuals are surveyed on an annual basis, the panel is a particularly valuable source of information for recognising and analysing long-term social trends. German Data Forum (RatSWD) YY GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences YY Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) YY

22 16 Research infrastructures in the social sciences Enhancing infrastructure with ESFRI paves the way for Europe-wide networking The european Strategy Forum on research Infrastructures (esfri) was launched on behalf of the european Commission in 2002 to strengthen european cooperation within the area of research infrastructures and boost the international competitiveness of european research. ESFRI, which consists of representatives of the member states and a representative of the Commission, is tasked with establishing a European strategy for research infrastructures. The forum identifies new research infrastructures of pan-european interest that will be necessary over the coming years to maintain Europe s position as a centre of research and to pave the way for a common European Research Area. To accomplish this, ESFRI creates roadmaps for the most important infrastructures, which are continuously updated to reflect the most recent stage of implementation. These efforts are carried out by four working groups, one of which focuses exclusively on research infrastructures in the humanities and social sciences. Within the scope of the Seventh Research Framework Programme, five European infrastructure projects in the humanities and social sciences were selected for funding, including three social science ESFRI projects: the Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA), the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). All three European projects are being conducted with the involvement of German partners. SHARE will be completely supported by BMBF project funding until 2014 and partly financed by the ministry until Twenty national social science data archives (2009) cooperate in the Norway-based CESSDA project. Germany is making important contributions, eg in the area of data registration and training. The ESS project, which has its headquarters in the United Kingdom, is conducting a cross-sectional survey on changes in values and attitudes in 20 European countries. The GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences is contributing its expertise to both projects in the areas of archiving and survey and analysis methods. European Social Survey (ESS) YY Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) YY Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) YY esfri project: Digitised collection of photographs from 1850 to the present in the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History in Oslo

23 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 17 An example of how an ESFRI project works: SHARE The Survey of Health, Ageing and retirement in europe (SHAre) is a european cooperation project consisting of a multidisciplinary and transnational longitudinal survey that collects information at two-year intervals about the lives of more than 60,000 individuals aged 50 and above. The project focuses on all key areas of life, including social and family networks, socio-economic situations and health. The data produced by this project is used to study and scientifically evaluate the life situations of older individuals in Europe. In addition to producing a wide range of international scientific publications on research into aging and demographic developments, the project is very actively involved in advising policymakers on these issues. Founded in 2002, this Europe-wide survey project is coordinated by the Munich Centre for the Economics of Ageing (MEA), under the direction of Prof. Axel Börsch-Supan. The MEA was an institute at the University of Mannheim until 2011 before being transferred to the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich in Nearly 20 European countries and Israel are currently participating in the survey conducted on a national basis in each country whilst remaining centrally organised and monitored. Two key sub-tasks are handled by the teams in Italy and the Netherlands. SHARE is part of a worldwide network of studies on ageing that includes countries such as the US, China and India. The European focus and the global network allow for unique comparisons of results, which are particularly important for conducting scientific analyses and advising policymakers. More than 150 researchers in international working groups and multidisciplinary teams contribute to the implementation and ongoing development of SHARE. In 2011, SHARE became the first ESFRI project to be confirmed as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) by the European Commission in accordance with the new Council Regulation on the Community legal framework for new research infrastructure consortiums. This legislation was introduced by the European Council in 2009 to facilitate international cooperation in ESFRI projects. Thanks to its thematic focus and legal form, SHARE is a leading force in Europe s research infrastructure. The SHAre project focusses on the health and living situations of individuals aged 50 and above in Europe

24 18 Research infrastructures in the social sciences The parallel development of national and European research infrastructures is vital european research infrastructures allow social science and economics researchers to draw more international comparisons than ever before and to share resources across international boundaries. Prof. Peter elias provides insights into the new opportunities and developments at the eu level. National research infrastructures in the social and economic sciences are resources that are shared across the research community and serve a variety of research purposes. These include large-scale multi-purpose longitudinal household surveys, linked employer-employee databases, data archives, methodological resources and access facilities for data which must remain within a safe setting, eg linked administrative datasets. They form a vital part of the national research infrastructure, facilitating research that guides policy and contributes to our understanding of the human condition. European research infrastructures serve similar research interests with the advantage of enabling cross-national comparisons and/or the sharing of resources across national boundaries. The last five years have seen some remarkable developments in this area: The European Social Survey and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe are examples of infrastructures designed specifically for cross-national comparison. The Data without Boundaries project will give researchers access to micro-level data for all countries in the European Union. The Council of European Social Science Data Archives is promoting cross-national access to national data repositories. The parallel development of national and European research infrastructures makes vigorous contribution to Europe s science research. Using these resources, the social sciences are contributing increasingly to our understanding of changing patterns in health and wealth across our interdependent nations, and are influencing the design and evaluation of policies to stimulate growth, innovation and social cohesion at the European level. While member states define and determine their national research infrastructures, the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures helps fulfil this role at the European level. The Forum advises the governments of member states and the European Commission on the need for and implementation of new and upgraded European research infrastructures. Prof. Peter elias Peter Elias is a professor at the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick, and a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Since October 2004 he has acted as the Strategic Advisor for Data Resources to the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Since 2012, he has also served as a member of the Social and Cultural Innovation Strategy Working Group of the EU Commission s European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI).

25 Research infrastructures in the social sciences 19 European activity acts as a trigger for national efforts Ten years ago, the european Strategy Forum on research Infrastructures (esfri) was founded to combine national research efforts within a joint European framework. Dr. Adrian Duşa takes stock of how the relationship between national and european research infrastructures has developed during this period. Exactly ten years ago the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures was founded with the general objective of pooling national research efforts within a common European framework. The most remarkable progress, in my opinion, has been the widespread impact of the ESFRI roadmap. Following the first roadmap published in 2006, an increasing number of countries have now developed their own roadmaps for research infrastructures, which is a strong indicator that European activity acts as a trigger for national efforts. The traditional approach, primarily in the natural sciences, is to invest in single-site research infrastructures, but there are other domains where distributed infrastructures are predominant (medical sciences, social sciences, environmental sciences and even physics). A great deal of activity can be observed in these disciplines, especially with regard to digital research infrastructures at both national and European levels, which will ultimately result in a more cohesive network of national research infrastructures, tightly integrated in a larger European landscape. Impressive as these results are, they are not yet sufficient for this integration to materialise, especially in view of the current economic crisis. I am convinced that future efforts will strengthen European cohesion, and joint programming and other forms of cooperation will hopefully create the necessary conditions for European integration. An additional area of progress is the foreseeable impact of national roadmaps on the European roadmap. While national efforts were previously triggered by European measures, the current approach is to define European priorities at the intersection between national roadmaps. As the EU becomes increasingly aware of its possibilities, national systems are also becoming aware of their own specific roles in this process. Dr. Adrian Duşa Dr. Duşa was appointed the director of the Romanian Social Data Archive (RODA) in 2001 and teaches social statistics at the Department of Sociology, University of Bucharest. In his capacity as a Romanian delegate to ESFRI, he has chaired the Social and Cultural Innovation Strategic Working Group since He currently serves as secretary on the executive board of the European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) and is involved in the research programmes of the European Research Foundation (ESF).

26 20 Research infrastructures in the humanities The humanities need a new concept for information infrastructures: The challenge is to integrate the various institutions with their wide range of needs and materials

27 Research infrastructures in the humanities 21 Digital infrastructures are changing the nature of work in the humanities Prof. Katharina Krause and Prof. Manfred Thaller explain how the humanities benefit from the expansion of infrastructures. Prof. Krause, what infrastructures do art historians need for their work and what has changed about this over the past few years? Krause: We art historians of course need access to the objects. Consequently, collections the museums, buildings, cities and landscapes constitute research infrastructures. Art history as a science wouldn t exist without images. There have been enormous changes over the past 20 to 30 years. Images that we have worked with for centuries are documented and made accessible today in an entirely different manner thanks to digitisation. What added value do modern, digital research infrastructures offer over traditional ones? Krause: If the material is well documented one can access information much more quickly. It s also much easier to share this information with other individuals. Prof. Thaller, why are the new approaches interesting for the entire field of the humanities? Thaller: Until now, the humanities have worked under the premise that information is something that is extremely difficult to acquire. In literary studies, for instance, researchers focus on a few selected authors. The works of the vast majority are not readily available to everyone. This began to change roughly 20 years ago, and I would be delighted if this premise became obsolete over the next 20 to 30 years. Nevertheless, we will then have the opposite problem. In just a few years, researchers in the humanities will receive all printed information with practically no delay whatsoever. How they put this information to effective use is a question that remains to be answered. In the humanities there is still no vision for how we can comprehensively use the new range of opportunities. Prof. Katharina Krause How do researchers in the humanities view these new opportunities? Krause: I don t think that there are major reservations, but there is still no vision about how we can comprehensively use the new range of opportunities. These days there is a great willingness to publish digitally and share one s material with others, and the use of digital copies and databases has become very widespread. The major handicap at the moment is that it is difficult to locate the documented material in contrast to large library catalogues, which are well networked. I don t think, however, that the so-called subject portals are a long-term solution because they isolate the disciplines from each other and necessitate a high degree of expertise. Something has to be done to combine the existing individual solutions in an effective manner. Thaller: I wholeheartedly agree. I believe that the popular adage quality not quantity is absolutely counterproductive and self-destructive when it comes to making digital material available to the humanities. How would you describe the collaboration between researchers in the humanities using qualitative and quantitative approaches? Thaller: We shouldn t necessarily juxtapose these two approaches. In the 1970s and 1980s, the innovations in my subject area, history, were primarily of a quantitative nature in the realm of socio-historical paradigms. Today, by contrast, quantitative or formal procedures are significantly weaker in the historical sciences. The general reason for this is that the humanities place a great deal of emphasis on the work of individuals, and a corresponding public presence is expected.

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