Tag Archives: workshop

Future Proof and #FAIR #Researchdatamanagement in the Humanities

Report from Hands-on Session: Future Proof and FAIR Research Data: Open Data Management Best Practices & First Steps

At 21st of January 2019 FOSTER+ and DARIAH EU organized the workshop “How to make the most of your publications in the humanities? Discover evolving trends in open access” at the Grimm-Zentrum Berlin.



You can imagine that I was extremely thrilled to lead a hands-on session about Research Data Management with a focus on Open practices in the afternoon for an international group of humanities researchers! Not only would this session provide me an opportunity to introduce the participants to basics of Open Data Management and discuss challenges and opportunities, it also allowed me to participate in the whole workshop with an excellent line-up of international experts and projects dedicated to Open Humanities. Just have a look at the programme to discover the topics discussed on this very informative day organized superbly by Erszébet Tóth-Cifra and Helene Brinken.


For me a personal highlight was the presentation from Pierre Mournier (OPERAS) about Open Scholarly Monographs, a topic that is sometimes treated in the Open Access discourse a bit like a wallflower because loads of attention recently is placed on articles. However, monographs have played and with Pierre I dare to prophesise, will continue to play a huge role in the scientific publication process of the humanities. Therefore, equally attention has to be paid to Open Access to monographs (e.g. distribution and discovery infrastructures, funding models, reward systems).


Another highlight, very close to the topic of my hands-on session, was the presentation by Walter Scholger and Vanessa Hannenschläger from the ACDH about Copyright Issues and Open Licensing. They argued convincingly that CCO is actually not a very useful to use to release your materials at it leaves a lot of insecurities (its a mark, not a licence) and encouraged CC-BY instead, even though it may seem rather difficult for resources that have been collaboratively produced. There was not enough time to discuss this in full detail, and I would love to see more detailed information about this and also examples from practice. All slides from the presentations of the workshop are linked from the programme. You can also try #humanitiesOA on Twitter.


My hands-on session started really very hands-on, as we first had to divide the room into two parts (in the other half was a parallel session about Self-Archiving). To get to know the background of the participants and to restart blood circulation after an already long workshop day, I asked the participants to stand up and to only sit down if the answer to my question was “no”. I asked them if 1) they had an ORCID, 2) they had ever published something Open Access besides articles or books, and 3) they had already written a data management plan. I overheard some mumbling remark to the last question, but what if it s*!&%cked? This really made me laugh, as this seems to be quite a common experience. It was also a very high motivation for me for the following 1 ½ hours!

While often when we talk about humanities data, the first thing that comes up are texts, which probably also one of the main humanities data types, I was surprised by the diversity the participants named during one of the hands-on discussion parts: social media and social network data, interview data (qualitative interview recordings and transcripts), bibliometric data, pictures, non-digital archival sources, geodata such as GIS, tabular data (Excel, CVS), algorithms and code, manuscript scans, Omeka collections. Seems, humanities researchers have a lot of data, and a very diverse range, too!

Without going into detail as you can download the full slide set of the session from Zenodo: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2546783, I would like to emphasise a few points we discussed during the session:

  • Thinking about Data Management from the beginning of your project, e.g. how to make your data FAIR, how to document your data and which metadata are needed, etc. can save you a lot of work afterwards, as it will make you think about standards (e.g. Standardization Survival Kit) to ensure interoperability and prevent you from losing track (or even data), or do you remember what exactly you did with your data a few months after?
  • Sharing Data ideally is a win-win: You can use data of others and others can use your data
  • Always give credit to what you use and make it easy for others to credit you (use an Open Access repository, CC licenses, etc.)
  • Think of Data Management as part of Good Scientific Practice, not as a nuisance (and from organizational point of view: allocate resources and infrastructure for support, this task should not be on the shoulders of researchers alone)

For me crucial parts of introducing researchers to data management are explaining the benefits and then introducing them gently to the basics, pointing at support structures and providing them with information about further learning and information resources. I often see that once they have dipped their toes into this topic, realizing the benefits, they are often highly motivated for further exploration and for using their new skills in practice. But first, you to get them into a data management session!


  • In the spirit of Open Educational Resources (OER), the slides of my presentation including the practical parts are published on Zenodo, feel free to reuse and share. I have gratefully reused brilliant material from the Open Science / OER Community, and would like to encourage everyone to do the same.
  • While you are here: Get started now and check out the PARTHENOS Training Module Manage, Improve and Open Up Your Research and Data! You can also try out a research data management planning tool, such as RDMO, that guides you through the essential parts of a data management plan.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or discuss with me on Twitter or Facebook!

The text of this blog post is published under the license CC-BY 4.0.

Cite as: Ulrike Wuttke, Future Proof and #FAIR #Researchdatamanagement in the Humanities, Blogpost, 04.02.2019, CC-BY 4.0.

My first processing visualisation

Tooling around!





GCDH Summer School Digital Analysis with Digital Tools, Göttingen, 28th July to 1st August 2014

My first processing visualisation

With a little help… My first visualisation with Processing!

I have been lucky to participate in a great Summer School organised by the Göttingen Centre of Digital Humanities about Visual Analysis with Digital Tools. And I couldn’t have spent this week better! Even though one might think that temperatures around 30° C are tempting to exchange the classroom for a swim, I truly enjoyed all the hands-on sessions and lectures and our group evenings as well! In the following I would like to share some impressions.

The morning sessions were subdivided in two strands (Visual Network analysis with VennMaker and Gephi; 3D Documentation for Cultural Heritage), of which I followed the first strand. In this strand Michael Kronenwett and Martin Starck introduced network analysis and visualisation with VennMaker and Gephi. VennMaker is a great tool if you want to draw your own customized social network visualisations, whereas Gephi is a bit more flashy and it is easier to import data (but VennMaker people are working on a data import feature!). However Gephi, as trendy and popular as it is at the moment, is not updated anymore at the moment and it was on my Mac (with Mac OS 10.8.5) rather unstable. In the end I even lost the window where you can see the network visualisation… I guess only a complete new installation would solve this strange problem. Anyway, I have learned not only how to use these tools, but also how to interpret my nice looking shiny visualisations, and that some background knowledge of statistics always comes in handy…

Our collective meals after the morning sessions at the refectory of Göttingen University were followed by a divers array of afternoon sessions and evening activities.

Monday Dirk Rieke-Zapp of Breuckmann/Aicon introduced the whole group to the technical aspects of 3D Scanning with Structured Light. He had brought with him a 70.000 (!) Euro scanning installation and showed how it works in praxis. Every scanning situation is different and every excursion should be carefully planned. Test before you ship your equipment! A truly nice episode he told us, was about scanning the Mona Lisa. Do you know how many people it takes to scan the Mona Lisa? Answer: 5. The curator, the scientist, the scanning professional, someone to hold the tripod and someone to hold the cables…

The keynote on Monday evening was given by Daniel A. Keim of the University of Konstanz, who showed us some fascinating DH visualisation of the Bible, Mark Twain’s books, and Twitter emergency situation recognition… He drew our attention to the fact that data visualisation is especially difficult in the humanities as researchers in the humanities are often confronted with fuzzy data in which they try to see something new. He strongly encouraged DH researchers to combine the (dis)advantages of computers (fast!, accurate!, stupid!) with the (dis)advantages of humans (slow!, inaccurate!, brilliant!) and to stay adventurous, innovative and not to forget to have fun also.

On Tuesday afternoon, Norbert Winnige and Alexei Matveev of the MPI MMG introduced us to the research into visualisations at their institute, especially how to visualise migration “without arrows” which always remind a bit of battle maps. Alexei Matveev demonstrated in a hands-on-session how to make visualisations using Processing. This is quite tough stuff for people who are not used to programming, but he did a great job! He also uttered the wise words, that you should not be seduced by “tool trends” , but always consider carefully which tool will serve you best to do the job. (And if you haven’t found the right tool yet, have a look at the valuable list of DH-tools provided by Project DiRT.)

But we did not only dive into visualisations for the humanities and social sciences! On Wednesday afternoon Sven Truckenbrodt of Rizzoli Lab explained more about his lab’s last scientific breakthrough, the first 3D Visualisation of a synapse, which was even featured in Science! He gave an inspiring lecture on the history of visualisations in the sciences and what can go wrong and whether you can trust them at all. He strongly recommended the book Objektivität by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (there also seems to be an English translation). It is good that also in the sciences researchers start appreciating visualisations, because they say so much more than “a big chunk of data on a sheet”! But 3D visualisations are also very expensive. Their model comprises 5-6 years of pure research, an incredible amount of time of Burghard Rammner who programmed the visualisation, and a lot very expensive super computer computation time! You might want to watch the video in the website of Science!

After the spacy 3D synapse a team from the SUB (Stefan Funk, Stefan Funk and Ubbo Veentjer) took the stage to present the Dariah-DE Geobrowser. With the Geobrowser you can visualise time-space-relations for example in a network of letters very easily and very beautifully. You can upload different datasets and overlay and compare them if you, let’s take an example, want to compare the spread of the books of two authors. It works with the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names to recognise the place names and to put them on the map (which works even with historic place names), but you have to check carefully. Sometimes the first option in the Getty Thesaurus seems to be a quite US-centric, why else would it put Edinburgh initially in the States?!? The city tour in the evening was “boycotted” by a city run, so we were not really able to walk a lot outside, but definitely our visit to the old city hall was a highlight! My first time ever with a “medieval” key… And a key it was, I guess it was some 30 cm and 0,5 kg!!!

Thursday afternoon was completely dedicated to an introduction to R. The task to lead an already a bit tired crowd of DH apprentices to places where almost none of us had been before was boldly taken over by Andreas Cordes (Institute for Psychology, Göttingen). R and R Studio are a bit tricky to install, so this took some time. I have to admit, even though R had been developed as an easy programming language for non-programmers, it still requires you to truly think “computational” to get the job done. The good thing is, that the R community is very active and very willing to share little routines to get a specific job done (these are called packages ;-)). We all were really impressed of what R enables you to do, so learning the basics will really provide you with a powerful tool for all kinds of analyses. If you understand Dutch, I would strongly recommend reading for example Karina van Dalen-Oskam’s inaugural lecture or some of her other publications to which my attention was drown by Astrid Kulsdom. I am very curious to see what else you can do with R for Computational Literature Analysis.

The last day’s afternoon was dedicated to the presentations of the achievements of the two Summer School strands. The 3D visualisation strand had set up a virtual museum of their scans which was truly impressive. My strand, the network analysis strand, also showed some of our visualisations and Ingo Boerner and me even demonstrated live how you can make a very easy, but nevertheless quite impressive analysis of your Facebook network with Gephi. I had found a tutorial for this on Youtube, so if you like to try it out, just follow this link to the Video of Data J Lab of Tilburg University. As we also learned during this week about sensitive data and not intruding other people’s privacy (anonymisation!), I won’t post my result …

Many thanks to the organisation team of the Summer School (Frank, Ele, and Andrea) and all the presenters and participants who made this an unforgettable rich learning and fun week!

Impressions from ‘Historical Documents Digital Approaches’, 5-7 September 2013

Better late than never some impressions from the HDDA 2013 workshop. This workshop took place at Ghent University begin September and did not only include fantastic speakers (hdda_leaflet), but was also very well organised, including fantastic sandwiches for lunch and splendid sunshine (though the organisers might not be held responsible for the latter). It was only a bit unfortunate for a DH workshop that Wifi was not working in the lecture room, but again I am sure that the organisers didn’t have a hand in this and I can only speculate that the planners of the UFO (the modern housing of the history department and parts of UGent administration) meant it to be like that to prevent people from checking their mails in the lecture rooms.

Unfortunately I missed the first sessions due to some private coincidences, the rest of the morning lectures of these three days spanned from Bert van Raemdonck (Ghent) who lectured on editing letters in TEI to Caroline Macé (Leuven) who lectured on how to use digital tools to analyse and visualise the history of texts (stemmata).
A very relevant point was that TEI is only one of the available codes, but also the most widely used code, so if it fits your needs USE it. This will make your results shareable (and please do share your code !), easily mineable, and it offers also the advantage that more TEI-advanced scholars are mostly very willing to lend newbies a hand (for this one can for example join the TEI-list).
Another important point was that the scholars who use digital documents and tools have to be aware what they are doing and which implications it brings for your scientific work. Worst case scenarios mentioned here included scholars who measured properties of medieval manuscripts using digital facsimiles and not taking into account that measuring a picture will maybe not lead you to correct measurements. Very fascinating were also the lectures on computational topic recognition and computational authorship attribution. I have to admit that this sounded in the beginning like magic to me, but after a while hearing and reading more about the methods and tools I start understanding the underlying logic.

The afternoons were reserved to a hands-on training in TEI-conformant XML with David Birnbaum (Pittsburgh) using Oxygen. He focussed in contrast to earlier trainings in which I have participated more on actually encoding the body of the text than the TEI-header so that in the end all participants had some ideas how to actually practically encode a historical document in TEI, including abbreviations and variants in the transmission history. And yes, we sighed…because if you want encode all this, your TEI-code starts looking very unattractive, that will say, so chaotic that you almost don’t see anymore what you are doing. That is why the advice to first think very good about what you actually need, who your audience is, what kinds of uses you want to enable, is a very good advice indeed.

To sum up, to DO Digital Humanities means in many cases learning to handle code and tools that are rather unfamiliar to the traditional humanities scholar. It is a barrier one has to take and not being afraid to ask and make mistakes probably is an essential part of the process. To remind us in future of the fact that editing with TEI is a lot of work (so rather start sooner than later) David Birnbaum gave everybody a “Shut up and Code” button. I don’t regret having spent my birthday coding…it was fun! Thanks to the organisers (especially Tjamke Snijders and Els De Paermentier, UGent) and sponsors and I really hope that next year a follow up will take place. Why not have then hands-on experience with XSLT or Mallet?


Upcoming: DigHum13 Summer School 2013

I just submitted my first ever poster abstract for the DH Summer School that will take place in Leuven (Belgium) from 18 to 20 September 2013! Pretty exciting, I must say. I am really curious how the jury will like my idea about a modular digital edition of the Vierde Partie of the High German Spiegel Historiael. Of course I strongly hope they will accept it so that I will be able to receive feed back and practical advice during the poster presentation from the senior researchers that will be present. But even without a poster, I can not wait to the end of September. The program is so to say mouthwatering…

The Berlin manuscript in its original binding

The Berlin manuscript in its original binding

DHOXSS 2013 Digital Humanities in a nutshell

During the last evening of this year’s Digital Humanities @ Oxford Summer School, when the last survivors had gathered on the compounds of at a lovely pub somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the fields of Oxford, someone completely not involved in the Summer School, but a researcher in the field of let me call it ‘computer related stuff’ and a philosopher from origin asked THE question: “So what are you doing as Digital Humanists? What makes you Digital Humanists?” Astonished silence followed the question for a while, then everybody stated his case…

What have we been doing during this week of Digital Humanities Summer School? I do not at all aim to solve in this little reflection the theoretical discussion of “What are Digital Humanities?”, I suggest to maybe check as a start the answers provided on the site http://whatisdigitalhumanities.com/, but rather aim to give some random impressions of what the Oxford Summer School was all about for me. First of all, I really appreciate that I had the ability to attend to the 2013 edition of the Digital Humanities @ Oxford Summer School, which provided to me a great opportunity to learn more about several aspects of what “the humanities can do with computational methods” and which specific concerns librarians and people working at museums and archives have in this area.

Maybe the most important lesson for me was how crucial it is to look beyond one’s own nose and communicate with each other. Another important lesson was that using a computer does not mean to do Digital Humanities…Digital Humanities is all about making “stuff” available digital and to perform tasks that were traditionally very work intensive, maybe not possible at all, ask new research questions and share and connect the results with fellow researchers and the public, as was stressed in the closing lecture on Friday by Lorna Hughes. A problem that was addressed again and again especially by librarians was the threat of data loss and the silent death of unlinked, difficult accessible data. Securing data from digital projects is seen as one of the important new tasks of libraries, but one should not forget that securing the data in a sustainable way for the future is very expensive. It would be good if researcher would consider these costs from the beginning and include them in their research grant proposals. Lorna also brought in in her lecture on the last day a slight apocalyptic touch when she began speculating about the Beast of Digitization and how it would look in a bestiary. In her opinion it would have two heads, 1) users who always want more data/content, and 2) the material which gets finished at a certain point and the problem of needing more funding for new projects, also to secure jobs.

My specific aim of participating in this Summer School was to learn more about TEI conformant XML, that is learning the specific language to describe documents digitally for several purposes, like digital editions and data mining. The specific very practical minded workshop An Introduction to XML and the Text Encoding Initiative was given by Sebastian Rahtz, James Cummings, and Ian Matzen and they really did their best to prepare us in a very short time to be able to work independently with Oxygen and the TEI-guidelines on our own projects. The next step would be to also learn how to influence the output of the transcribed text, but that will be for another time… One point that became clear to me during the discussions of the workshop sessions is that although TEI is really a great tool for digital editing, it is not a magic weapon. We are still struggling with the problem of trying to describe something in a linear way that is in many cases not linear, think of all over the place scribbled pages, and then the encoding gets a bit messy…

To sum up, I have spent a fantastic, very energetic week, learning many things, having some beliefs shaken, and meeting many amazing people! And last but not least, I slipped away one morning to examine some manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, such fantastic staff, such a great experience!

Hope to see you back next year!

Short glosses: The food at lunch at Wolfson college was marvelous, the teaching facilities generally o.k. (though tables missing at Wolfson College Lecture Theater, how to take notes, especially with a laptop…), but really cold due to the air-conditioning, the diner at Queens College was quite an experience…yes, it looked very nice and indeed almost like in Harry Potter, but the food was rather bad, the wine very quickly finished, and we all together forced to leave very soon. I know this kind of places under the name of tourist trap…

Most hilarious moments: missing the boat to go punting with Sebastian Rahtz and misunderstanding Irish English…I thought the guy was talking about kicking some poor dogs when he was actually saying: “Did you see me given the ducks a bit of a cake?”