Monday, January 25, 2010

Data needs in the Social Sciences and Humanities

(Submitted on behalf of Bob Jones, Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project director)

Many large-scale European research projects are currently in their planning stages, in particular those on the ESFRI roadmap (see posts tagged “ESFRI”). Now is a busy time as they outline their data management needs. For organisations like EGEE and EGI, being involved in these phases can ensure that the grid infrastructure that has been developed during the last decade will serve the needs of these scientists for many years to come.

Last week I was in Brussels at a workshop, “Common Needs and Common Solutions for the ESFRI research infrastructures for the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)”. This meeting was very similar to the “Workshop on ICT and e-infrastructure needs for European Research Infrastructures in Biological and Medical Sciences” held in Brussels in the middle of last month (see my blog post of December 17).

The workshop had about 30 participants with a large number of representatives from the European Commission Research & Technical Development section, a few national groups and reps from DEISA, GÉANT /DANTE, EGEE DRIVE/OpenAIRE, CLARIN, ESS (European Social Survey), DARIAH, SHARE and CESSDA.

The key points I took away from this meeting were that:

  • While there is not a clear, leading SSH ESFRI project (i.e. the equivalent of ELIXIR in life science) with which e-infrastructures can interact, the SSH projects do have a subset of common needs,
  • Tighter integration of SSH projects would help ensure participation from more member states,
  • The quantities of data concerned by the SSH projects is not exceptional but it is dispersed across many datasets that cannot be migrated and combined into a single source
  • EGI/PRACE/GÉANT3 should offer a common Authorisation & Authentication infrastructure, The support for registered, Persistent Identifiers is essential.
  • The long-terms stewardship of data is a key issue that not many centres understand
  • The EC itself is a source of important data, e.g. eurostat statistics, and the workshop participants would like to see more harmonization between European researchers and EC directorates and more willingness of the EC to share its own data with researchers.

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