Requirements for a New Zealand Humanities eResearch Infrastructure

Humanities scholars in the United States and United Kingdom have been involved in the development of eResearch infrastructures for some years, guided by landmark reports like the Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2006) and units like the Office for Digital Humanities at the US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). Australia has recently started work on a major project to aggregate its humanities and cultural datasets and provide networked infrastructure (HUNI). All three countries collaborated on Project Bamboo, a platform for the provision of humanities-focused tools and infrastructure funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. New Zealand humanities academics have not been involved with any of these initiatives in a meaningful way and have scant expertise in either digital humanities or the development of eResearch infrastructure. Despite that, the country is relatively well positioned to leverage existing infrastructure built through the science and technology communities and the government sector into a world-class humanities eResearch infrastructure. Short, medium, and long-term strategies are needed to increase awareness of eResearch among humanities researchers, educate them about ways it can enhance their research, and elicit requirements for a Phase 1 humanities eResearch infrastructure. Unlike the science and technology disciplines (and although the HUNI requirements provide a sophisticated point of reference), humanities requirements are likely to be basic and focused more on education and elementary infrastructure provision than computationally intensive services. Opportunities exist, nevertheless, for significant inter-disciplinary collaboration and the development of data hosting, management, and preservation services that could offer significant benefits for future researchers. Even if adoption remains low for some time, opportunities exist to collaborate with international projects, reducing downstream costs by integrating with overseas humanities infrastructures.

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