Digging into Data: looking back –
Catherine Grout/ Stuart Dempster
Montreal, Palais de Congres
13th October 2013
• To add context to aid
discussion for next
phase of the meeting
• To highlight key findings
and achievements of
DiD 1 and 2
• To suggest some future
ideas about directions
and next steps
DiD 1 and the CLIR report
For Round One, the Digging into Data
(DiD) Challenge was sponsored by
four research funders
(NEH, NSF, SSHRC, Jisc)
Funded 8 international projects
Achieved impact and acclaim via a
range of publications e.g. e New York
Times, Nature, Times Higher
Education, Globe and Mai letc.
DiD was also the subject of a major
research report published by the
Council on Library and Information
• CLIR report found that we need to:
1) Expand our concept of research
2) Expand our concept of research data
and accept the challenges that digital
research data present
3) Embrace interdisciplinarity
4) Take a more inclusive approach to
5) Address gaps in training and skills
6) Adopt models for sharing credit
7) Adopt models for sharing resources
8) Re-envision scholarly publication
9) Make greater, sustained investments
in human and cyber infrastructure
For Round Two, four additional
(IMLS, AHRC, ESRC, NWO) and the
Netherlands joined as a fourth
14 projects won awards, chosen by
our international peer reviewers.
These 14 presented their work in
Montreal yesterday at the Digging
into Data Conference
These fourteen projects represent a
very wide variety of exciting
research, among them the IMPACT
project which made the headlines
when their paper in the Lancet
revealed that clogged arteries
plagued the ancient world.
• Some outcomes from Did 2 so
1) Exploiting what open access and open data
2) New ways of visualising and interpreting
existing data and resources
3) Development of tools that can then be
applied to more contexts and data
4) Unanticipated and important new insights.
Throwing up new research questions.
5) Enabling precision as well as speed of
performance over very large datasets (like
6) Challenging boundaries between disciplines
and how you do the research process
7) Can anyone be a historian or sociologist if
they have the right data?
DiD 3 and onwards
Two new funders have joined DiD (CFI and NSERC), bringing us to a total of ten.
The Round Three projects will be announced in January of 2014.
DiD demonstrates a unique and field-proven method for international
cooperation among research agencies. Proposals are reviewed by an international
peer review committee jointly selected
Each applicant team must represent at least two countries. Awards made using a
“fund-own” system under which funders only pay for their own researchers.
Allows each funder to participate with minimal paperwork.
Multiple funders from a single country can work together (e.g. NEH, NSF, IMLS)
which makes interdisciplinary projects easier to fund.
DiD achievements (Channelling Brett)
• Pioneered and legitimised big data based research in the humanities – for
computer scientists and others. (‘from zero to hero’)
• “Digital humanities”, “computational social sciences” and others working
together (‘breaking boundaries’)
• Engage GLAM sector and others to encourage them to make their data
available in forms useful to researchers and to work with them
(encourages joint data curation)
• Progress on the policy side toward reforming copyright and IP to allow for
big data research on cultural heritage materials. (more to do here)
• International & multidisciplinary cooperation had high impact (more than
anticipated). Increased visibility also strengthened research bringing new
teams together (‘breaking new ground’)
DiD achievements (Brett and others)
Brought knowledge to the funders themselves through working with other
agencies, improving and transforming ideas. How can these lessons be
highlighted for us within other collaborative endeavors like the Transatlantic
How might expanding the range of Digging funders help researchers expand the
breadth of their work? To find new partners and new perspectives using big data
research as a catalyst?
Project spanning domains (humanities, social science, and library/information
science). Create a new kind of research that would not be funded because of
boundaries between research councils and funder
Societal value. Service to humanity – important new findings effect people’s lives
Economic value. Health, crime, legal issues, efficiency gains - supports economy
Funders responses to big challenges
How might funders help?
‘Not enough to just say ‘open data’, but policies and procedures need to add
‘utility’ to ensure interoperable data. Open data mandates but with a data
curation, data standards (DOI, APIs etc.) and credit (data citation e.g. Harvard)
Develop common methodologies of checking and re-analysis to see the
cumulative value and quality of data
Encourage the availability and analysis of data in real or near time (John Willinsky)
Encourage computational scientists, SSH researchers and digital libraries to work
together (data preservation).
Encourage permissive ‘model licences’ for public domain and copyrighted data
Encourage ‘credit’ career progression/tenure amongst host institutions
Develop sustainable and extensible shared digital infrastructure (grid, cloud etc.)
Encourage ‘good practice’ in ethics and governance (privacy etc.)
Encourage model legal and rights management approaches for (IPR) issues
Reactions – what are the main highlights so far?
Do you agree with Brett?
Are there other points?
Where should/could Digging go next led
New research/Themes/ issues to be considered?
(Taking forward grantees feedback)
What is now done and finished (Implementing/embedding?)
Is bigger better?