Digital Research Infrastructures: A Human Capital Perspective from PARTHENOS WP 7

Digital Research Infrastructures: A Human Capital Perspective from PARTHENOS WP 7

It is a well-known cliché to say that an organisation’s or discipline’s strength is in its people.

Cliché or no, however, this is very much the case for digital humanities and for the development of digital research infrastructure for the arts, humanities and cultural heritage.  The innovation and excitement of these endeavors lies not in the digital platforms themselves, but in the way in which researchers use them to answer intractable questions, in the way in which technical developers contribute unique and elegant software to enhance their utility, and in the way in which information scientists refine the organisational frameworks underlying these systems to support information reuse and discovery.

Strong digital humanities requires strong people, who may need to continually develop their skills base in order to understand and utilize the latest software, tools and standards for their work.  All too often, however, the focus on these many types of users and contributors in a digital research ecosystem is too narrow, envisioning or understanding these users only in a moment of time, rather than across years of work, and indeed across an entire professional career.

The research infrastructure projects that comprise PARTHENOS have all engaged in training and researcher development activities: through summer schools, workshops, seminars and by contributing to structured educational programmes at the hosting institutions.  Many of the projects have also supported the independent investigations of mid- to late-career researchers, through the Transnational Access Programmes they have hosted.  But PARTHENOS gives us a chance to step back an look at all we have done to support the formation of researchers, developing a consolidated view of good practice across the course of the career.  Our final outputs will make a significant contribution to systematizing the many and varied contributions research infrastructures make to the development of human capacity for high-end research, knowledge which other institutions can use to improve their own training programmes, support mechanisms and role definitions.

The mission of WP7, therefore, is to focus on the long-term integration and promotion of an emerging class of researchers whose research depends on the availability of an appropriate ICT-based infrastructure as the basis for their methodological approach to knowledge creation.  It will design and implement an integrated training programme, taking into account the wide-variety of training needs expressed in the partner projects and responding to them with a series of validated ‘train the trainers’ modules.  It will also undertake a thorough impact assessment of the Transnational Access programmes run within the advanced infrastructure communities to date, making recommendations for their further development and better alignment with researcher and systemic requirements.  It will also maintain a watching brief on broader issues of career progression and professional development within digital infrastructures and digital scholarship.

As such, PARTHENOS looks to make a significant contribution to our ability to recruit, develop and retain the very best researchers within the humanities digital research environment.

Date: September 28, 2015