Amidst the fundamental changes in research culture of our days, we see a growing need for scholarly communities to translate the global open data mandates into their own needs and find their own domain-and discipline-specific solutions and paths towards responsible and sustainable research data sharing (see e.g. Deniz et al. 2020).
A defining feature of data and data workflows in the arts and humanities domain is their dependence on cultural heritage sources hosted and curated in museums, libraries, galleries and archives. A major difficulty when scholars interact with heritage data is that cultural heritage institutions and universities/research performing organizations are embedded into very different legal, funding, structural and organizational frameworks. As a result, in the current research practices, the different layers of analysis (from the ways in which cultural heritage resources are made digitally available through their enrichment to research results or projects built upon them) that naturally form a continuum of knowledge creation are separated by institutional and infrastructural silos and in the rarest cases can they stay connected with each other.
The Heritage Data Reuse Charter (https://datacharter.hypotheses.org/) aims to address these challenges by designing a common environment that will enable all the relevant actors to work together to connect and improve access to heritage data and make transactions related to the scholarly use of cultural heritage data more visible and transparent. The Charter would just allow both cultural heritage institutions, infrastructure providers and researchers and to clarify their goals at the beginning and the project, to specify access to data, provenance information, preferred citation standards, hosting responsibilities etc. on the basis of which the parties can arrive at mutual reuse agreements that could serve as a starting point for a FAIR-by-construction data management, right from the project planning/application phase. The exchange protocol and the resulting mutual agreements between the involved parties can be flexibly applied to projects of different scale and in platform-independent ways. Institutions can embed them into their own exchange protocols while researchers can add them to their Data Management Plans. As such, they can show evidence for responsible and fair conduct of cultural heritage data, and fair (but also FAIR) research data management practices that are based on partnership with the holding institution.
Rethinking the ways in which cultural heritage data is made available is a priority in the transition towards the networked, digital and open research culture in many respects. The longevity of all these cultural holdings is defined by their presence in scientific, cultural and social discourses and once we lose access to them in the digitally remediated knowledge ecosystem, we lose this entirely. Making them discoverable and accessible on the digital horizon and enabling scholars to cross digital borders instead of crossing physical ones to visit, study and enrich them can significantly reduce their carbon footprint. This is only possible if data creators and curators from the cultural heritage domain and data (re)users: research teams from different academic domains (arts and humanities, heritage science, paleontology, archaeology etc.) work together on opening up cultural heritage resources for computational analysis in a way that is better aligned with scholar’s increasingly digital research workflows.
Deniz Beyan, Oya, Chue Hong, Neil, Cozzini, Stefano, Hoffman-Sommer, Marta, Hooft, Rob, Lembinen, Liisi, … Teperek, Marta. (2020, June 23). Seven Recommendations for Implementation of FAIR Practice. Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3904140