Second EqUIP Symposium: Digital Archives and Databases as a Source of Mutual Knowledge

The second of EqUIP Symposia, dedicated to Digital Archives and Databases as a Source of Mutual Knowledge, took place in Rome, Italy, on 5th and 6th May 2016, hosted by APRE – the Agency for the Promotion of the European Research.

Symposium Reflection Paper summarizing the finding and results of this discussion is now available.

As for all symposia the overarching aim of this symposium was to provide recommendations to EqUIP partners about priority areas for future joint India-EU research activities. Within its specific scope, instead, the specific aim of the Digital Archives symposium was to explore how the pervasiveness of digital technologies – which is leading to process transformation in all sectors – is impacting on research, and more in particular on the capacity of researchers to access and utilize the data they want to in order to carry out excellent research.

About forty among representatives of the institutional, academic and industrial world of both India and the EU contributed to the discussion, divided into three working groups:

  1. Research and technological infrastructures supporting facilitated access and sharing in SSH
  2. Digitizing (Multi)Cultural Heritage
  3. New Digital Research Methods for Social sciences and Humanities in a digitalised world

group photo

The work of each group was divided into three main consecutive steps, respectively aimed at:

  • Taking a picture of the current situation: existing resources, capacities and gaps
  • Identify future research priorities
  • Widening our perspectives: Opportunities and challenges of greater digitalisation for SSH research

You can have a deeper view of the symposium looking at our booklet, containing the concept, agenda, methodology, frequently asked questions, and list of participants of the event.

Here a few questions that were proposed to participants for further exploration:

  • How creating nodal digital centres for archives and ensure (open) access to data sources for Indian and EU researchers? Creating both a general centre that provides open access to researchers and an online repository of available databases to which open access is ensured (including enabling mutual data sharing and access between archives in the EU and in India)
  • How digitizing different supports, languages and data? Digitalisation/Digitisation[1] and preservation should include, but not be limited to: manuscripts and documents (printed and written material), oral history sources and ethnographies, census and other survey data, archaeological data, data derived from language (including written and sound), and music.
  • How preserving digitised content? Accessibility and durability of digitised content (e-resources) is vital in order to safeguard for use by future generations of researchers.
  • How research methods and methodologies will change, and which are needs and challenges? Cross-cutting issues related to the development of new tools, methodologies and strategies for research, including the use and storage of new forms of data (open data, and big data, such as administrative data held by governments, business data, transport and travel data, data generated by mobile phones, GPS location technologies, internet interactions, sensors etc.) shall be explored, to ensure that researchers have the capacity and capability to utilise data in the ways they would like to.

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[1] Digitalisation refers to the ways in which areas of our lives are being restructured around digital communication and ‘new’ media. Digitisation refers to the process of converting something from analogue (incl. image, video, text, sound), into digital formats.