Finding Gaps: First Results of the DARIAH-HaS DH Service Survey

This month DARIAH-EU asked for participation in a survey on digital tools for researchers. The survey is part of DARIAH’s Humanities at Scale Project (HaS). HaS work package 6 investigates demands of DH projects regarding service requirements and tools. Its aims is to evaluate what services are already in use at the present time, and which tools will be used in the future. To get this kind of information and to enable a gap analysis a survey was conducted in June 2016.

This preview will give a very brief overview of the results which will be published in the “Report on researchers’ service needs”. The report will be published by July 2016 and can be accesses via the project website.

The survey was created with Lime Survey and was designed to answer the following questions:

  • How do the target groups evaluate the relevance of providing basic services and tools in a Digital Humanities research infrastructure?
  • What services and tools are already in use?
  • What do the target groups wish to have or use in the future?

The defined target group for WP6 covers traditional humanities researchers as well as technical oriented researchers and developers in the field of Digital Humanities. Thus the survey addresses scholars and academics with a focus on Humanities Research as well as scholars and academics with a focus on Technical Development.

When asked for their evaluation of the importance of tools and services for collaboration activities, 51% indicated that they consider tools or services for data management in a content management system very important.  This answer is followed by “Synchronization of files” and “Collaborative and simultaneous writing and editing of texts”. Interestingly people do not have concrete ideas what to use in the future, even if they seem not be satisfied with the current situation. The following quotes illustrates that clearly:

“I use Zotero for both bibliography and ancient documents but I would like to use another system for documents without having to create my own database (which is a lot of trouble and not very flexible especially for short projects).”

“I don’t know, not using anything like it at the moment (which is not good as I loose overview).”

Regarding administrative and organisational requirements results turned out to be very clear, too. People articulated a strong need for support in the field of project management, whereas tools to conduct surveys or set-up votings seem to be of minor interest.

The question block on research activities revealed that solutions for long term preservation of research data as well as tools and services to ensure the stable referencing of data and publications are issues of high importance.

When it comes to the topic of software development the replies revealed that there is a need of tools or services to support the hosting of source code. Most of the respondents already use Git and GitHub in particular. However, they feel the need for more sustainable and non-private sector services.

“I see people of my research team using a lot of those features by using github, but github is a private service. There are no repositories for code (as far as I know), so sustainability of github is a concern.”

Following the final analysis of the survey WP 6 will continue to identify services that will be implemented into the DARIAH infrastructure.

Posted in General