Institutional repositories and data re-use for the humanities

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Institutional repositories have become increasing important systems to store the rising amount of data produced by researchers. An institutional repository may be university wide or subject specific. They may serve the needs of a particular institution, a group of institutions, a nation, or an entire region. Examples include the UK’s Archaeological Data Service (ADS) the History Data Service (HDS) , the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the Australian Social Science Data Archive (ASSDA), and the European wide Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) and the Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure (CLARIN)

Institutional repositories collect digital data and usually make it available to a global audience. They may contain an assortment of digital objects including pre and post print articles, theses and dissertations, and results from research such as databases, images, surveys, teaching materials, and computing tools.

Once materiel is in a repository; another researcher may download it to be reused in their own research. Most institutional repositories work in this way; although there is a trend towards building systems to re-use this data in sophisticated, distributed ways through ‘Cyberinfrastructures’ and Virtual Research Environments (VREs).

Some of the most interesting academic questions for humanists is how do you incorporate data produced in the context of another research project in your own research? What new insights arise, what new problems arise, and how does this data impact upon the underlying evidence layers of your research? If anyone has experience of this; I would be extraordinarily interested to hear from you as I am developing a series of case studies around this problem.

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