Research & Development

The scholarly world is, like society as a whole, undergoing rapid and far-reaching changes, caused by a profound media transformation. Many humanities disciplines are deeply influenced by the opportunities provided by digital media and technologies. More and more researchers have begun to embrace digital methods and often find themselves in a situation where required tools and resources are simply not yet available, have still to be developed or otherwise procured. There exists a palpable gap between expectations and reality. Specialised tools have started to emerge in many areas. However, applicability and reusability in a more general sense lag behind considerably. The ACDH has set out to work on these problems and to engage in the development of tools and their integration into new digital infrastructures for the humanities.

Of late, the members of the ACDH’s various working groups have focused in their work on the creation, annotation and usage of digital language resources. Related interests stretch from general issues pertaining to the design of corpora and lexical resources to more particular issues such as the enrichment of large corpora, the indexing of big data and the visualisation of digital data. Among the language resources they have been working on are several important corpora. In all its projects the team of digital humanities experts (who come from quite diverse disciplines) has adopted a multi-perspective interdisciplinary approach combining linguistic, literary, historical and technological aspects. The technical development concentrated on implementing a generic framework for the publication of digital language resources, the corpus_shell. It is designed to produce freely available, reusable, web-based resource-viewers for heterogeneous language resources and is already being used in the implementation of several projects. A special research focus is eLexicography. In this field too, research and development go hand in hand, producing a number of dictionaries and – at the same time – developing a virtual research environment for lexicographers. The involvement in the production of digital editions has led to work on information visualization, the most prominent example of which is the SMC Browser (an interactive graph viewer). Another research focus are semantic technologies which have particular significance for humanities research. The ACDH’s working groups have been working on semantic registries and engage in activities related to controlled vocabularies. Standards based structured data are an indispensable prerequisite in building ‘intelligent’ applications which nowadays are expected to be available via the Internet. Several ACDH projects are directed towards the creation and exploitation of Linked (Open) Data and tools to handle such data.

The ACDH’s agenda has long since been characterised by a strong commitment to the ESFRI projects CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure) and DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities). Large parts of the institute’s research agenda are synchronised with activities in the research infrastructure consortia and are planned as Austrian contributions to these. In many projects, they have worked towards making Austria an important partner in the European DH infrastructure initiatives. Austria is now a founding member in both DH research infrastructure consortia CLARIN-ERIC and DARIAH.EU.