Steering Committee for Digital Humanities

Terms of reference for the Steering Comittee for Digital Humanities at the Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities faces a growing need for digital methods and digital research infrastructure. The use of digital methods and research infrastructures can enrich a broad range of its study programmes and research areas and will be indispensable for research in the future in areas like linguistics, literature, archaeology, history and media. The application of digital methods makes it possible to identify patterns which could not be mapped without them for practical or methodological reasons. Many humanities disciplines will enjoy new opportunities of generating evidence. Simultaneously, more stringent requirements on evidence that can be established by relevant and available digital means will evolve. This development will transform academic standards in some areas.

As well as these factors, new formal requirements will also be placed on researchers. These are defined in documents like the UCPH Policy for Research Data Management and the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Increasingly stringent demands on data management and explicit plans for data management will also become standard, for example when submitting Horizon 2020 applications. The national work on digital research infrastructure (see Danish Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2015) also makes new sources of funding available. Moreover, digital skills throughout the Faculty will enhance graduate employability.

Some of the researchers and sub-units in the Faculty of Humanities have already made great strides when it comes to digital methods. The Faculty also has important units and study programmes with a major IT component, in particular the Centre for Computing and Communication (CCC) and programmes like Communications and IT, IT and Cognition and Information Science and Cultural Communication. It is characteristic of these units and programmes that they not only use digital methods, but that their academic standards are systematically involved in the analysis, design, construction and implementation of information systems, digital and social media and other software. Graduates of these programmes often find work in distinct IT jobs or other positions that place heavy demands on IT skills.

Other Faculty resources worthy of note include four major IT labs and platforms – CCC's Experience Lab, the RSLIS IT Lab, the Humanities Faculty Library Datalab and the virtual platform CLARIN. These platforms can and should be co-ordinated to spread and encourage the use of digital methods in the Faculty's teaching and research. DIGHUMLAB is also worth mentioning as a related platform that will help continue the process of promoting the use of digital methods in the humanities.

When discussing digital methods and research infrastructures, it is crucial to keep in mind the peculiarities, purpose and expertise of the various disciplines. Developing a research infrastructure and all the opportunities related to it for data access, analytical tools, visualisation capabilities, etc., is not just a matter of IT expertise. It takes input from researchers who understand the subject matter to ensure the relevance and applicability of digital research infrastructures. This is particularly true of the humanities, where data is extremely heterogeneous. Consideration of this fact must be incorporated into thinking about specific infrastructure projects and platforms as it is an absolute prerequisite for ensuring that people actually use them.

In the Faculty of Humanities as a whole, the potential for developing and spreading digital solutions is huge, but so too are the challenges. This is due to the ever more stringent requirements placed on skills within data management as well as knowledge of digital methods in general. However, many parts of the Faculty do not yet have the necessary knowledge and relevant digital skills. The Faculty of Humanities needs a co-ordinated strategy to meet these challenges at all levels.

Hence the Faculty has set up a Steering Committee for Digital Humanities to advise the Dean and Faculty management, whose role it is regularly to discuss and approve specific proposals put forward by the Committee to carry out the tasks listed below.

Duties of the Steering Committee for Digital Humanities

  • To contribute to the ongoing development and implementation of a strategy for digital humanities
  • To spread knowledge of and encourage the use of digital methods in research and teaching
  • To facilitate the development of relevant general policies including a framework that promotes the development of research infrastructures actually meeting the specific needs of the humanities disciplines – that is, to involve experts in the various disciplines and to be sensitive to the heterogeneous nature of relevant digital materials, etc.
  • To develop knowledge and overview of digital activities in the humanities, and help maximise the mutual benefits among them – also via co-ordination of important laboratories and units which can enhance digital humanities in the Faculty
  • To raise the profile of the Faculty as a Nordic centre for the development of digital humanities, and also as a supplier of high-level IT expertise, which is based on and makes use of the humanities
  • To combine with other relevant actors in the Faculty and endeavour to improve researchers' knowledge of and active use of data management, as well as other measures necessitated by the University of Copenhagen's policies for the storage of research data, the code of conduct, etc.
  • Tto liaise with DigHumLab, the UCPH Advisory Group for Data Management, the UCPH representative on the National Forum for Data Management as well as other relevant councils and committees, such as DEFF, DeIC, etc.
  • To provide advice on appropriate investments in specific research infrastructure as well as relevant initiatives such as workshops, short training programmes for researchers, etc.
  • To maintain and improve the website for digital humanities, such that it contributes to spreading knowledge of digital methods and infrastructures and motivates their use in the humanities. Moreover, it should provide a useful overview and collection of case studies for those interested in the topic. This obligation presupposes appropriate support.

Organisation

The Steering Committee has five members, including the chairperson. The chair must be a member of the Faculty management and is appointed by the Dean and management for a two-year term. The other members are also appointed by the Dean and Faculty management for two years at a time.

The Steering Committee will continue the work of the former 'technical network', now under the name Working Group for Research Infrastructure, and all departments are encouraged to appoint 1–2 members to the group. A chairperson of this working group will be appointed.

The Dean and the chair of the Steering Committee must agree how to service the Committee, including taking minutes of meetings, sending out agendas, etc.

The Steering Committee must meet at least twice per semester.

Starting in 2017, the Steering Committee will submit annual reports for the past year every June. 

Members

The Faculty Management decided 18 April 2016 that the Steering Committee should be composed of the following researchers from the Faculty of Humanities:

  • Professor Jens-Erik Mai, Head of department, Department of Information Studies (chairperson)
  • Professor Bolette Sandford Pedersen, Deputy head of department, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics
  • Professor Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication
  • Associate professor Eva Andersson Strand, Director, Centre for Textile Research, the Saxo Institute
  • Professor Niels Ole Finnemann, Department of Information Studies