State of the art report on digital research practices, tools and scholarly content use

Blog by Agiati Benardou, Research Associate at the Digital Curation Unit of the R.C. 'Athena', Institute for the Management of Information Systems.

Last month, Work Package 1 (Assessing Researchers’ Needs in the Cloud and Ensuring Community Engagement) officially submitted one of its major deliverables, D1.2, the State of the Art Report on Digital Research Practices, Tools and Scholarly Content Use. The significance of this report lies in the fact that it sets the basis for a user-centred, evidence-based approach to User Requirements elicitation and analysis for the future Europeana Research platform.

This quite extensive piece of work constitutes desk research aiming to present and analyse the current situation related to digital research practices, tools and content for the Humanities and Social Sciences research communities. Furthermore, it serves as the theoretical framework towards the development of a content strategy for Europeana Research as well as the identification and analysis of user requirements for Humanities and Social Sciences in the cloud.

Eliza Papaki (DCU, "Athena" R.C.) and Owain Roberts (NLW), two of the main authors of the   'State of the art report on digital research practices, tools and scholarly content use', photo taken by Alastair Dunning.

For the purposes of this report, our research was carried out as an exploration stage which would then provide the basis for the confirmation stage, namely a web survey. The latter was based on previous work in the context of user requirements research within two ESFRI e-Infrastructures projects - 'Preparing DARIAH' and the 'European Holocaust Research Infrastructure' (EHRI). This web survey aims to produce an evidence-based, statistically valid and reliable descriptive record of scholarly practice and digital needs in the Humanities and Social Sciences within the Europeana ecosystem.

Moreover, this report relies heavily on work previously presented in the Research Communities Identification and Definition Report, submitted last June, in which the Humanities and Social Sciences research communities to be supported via Europeana Cloud were comprehensively discussed and identified.

Overall, this report illustrated that the rise of digital content and its gradual adoption from researchers in the humanities and social sciences has inevitably brought changes in the research practices and user behaviour. Despite the fact that user information behaviour literature, aiming to grasp the impact of the digital age in research, is a growing field, scholarly content use is only studied in the context of more general topics. The shift in digital tools to web-based technologies only adds to these complexities. Therefore, further research in this particular field will illuminate and direct efforts to build research infrastructures which will best serve research needs.

The State of the Art Report on Digital Research Practices, Tools and Scholarly Content Use was the joint effort of four partners in the Project, the Digital Curation Unit ('Athena' R.C.), CERL, the National Library of Wales and the University of Gothenburg.


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