The Digital Knowledge Order and Data Quality

Contributions by Historical Scholarship and Challenges

Digitisation has taken hold of research in the humanities for some time: In everyday work at the computer, in searching books and articles, in reading sources online, in collaborative work and via electronic publishing, whether open access or not. The humanities are not awaiting but they are already in the middle of a new digital era.

New issue of the archival journal¬† “Der Archivar” with contributions by archivists, historians and digital historians (Der Archivar 1/2020)

The issue contains an essay by Johannes Paulmann, Director of the Leibniz Institute of European History, and Eva Schlotheuber, President of the German Historical Association. The write on the challenges for historians posed by the new digital knowledge order and on the issue of data quality. Paulmann Schlotheuber Essay in Archivar 2020

They content that digital research, that is research with digital tools and methods, works more or less well at the level of individual projects – or it just doesn’t work, especially when higher-level structures and links are needed: Technical and content standardization, data integration and interoperability, reusability, long-term preservation, copyright and rights of use and scientific evaluation have a variety of problems. In this situation, the initiative to establish a national research data infrastructure has been taken up positively on all sides in Germany. The initiative came from the German Council for Information Infrastructures (RfII) – a science policy advisory body to the federal government and the states.

From the point of view of the historical sciences, there are fundamental issues. We are, on the one hand, in the midst of building a new knowledge order. On the other, we deal with the essential question of how in the framework of a digital order data quality is ensured, can be checked and made transparent. For both areas – new knowledge order and data quality – the development of a scholarly led (inter)national data infrastructure is urgently needed. Reflecting ont the challenges for the historical scholarship also makes an essential contribution to the critical reflection of digital research and work in general as well as on societal use of knowledge in the present and the future .

These concerns are central to the 4Memory consortium initiative in which they are envolved . The initiative aims to establish systematic, sustainable links among three main categories of the producers and users of historical data: historical researchers, memory institutions (archives, libraries, museums, and collections) and information infrastructures. For more information see the 4Memory website.

 


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