Open Data for Heritage Science RDA 9th Plenary BoF meeting

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Meeting title

Strategies for opening data in Heritage Science

Short introduction describing the activities and the scope of the group: 

Scientists from a diverse range of disciplines – chemists, physicists, material scientists, engineers, archaeologists, digital humanists, conservators, literary scholars, historians and art historians, to name a few - are working together in the new multi-disciplinary field of heritage science. Integrating and sharing data across these fields demonstrates the need for building upon existing data and metadata standards – already developed in each scientific discipline - contributing to, reusing and connecting existing technologies rather than creating new semantic structures, authority tables and linked data. Both within the United States and Europe there have been initiatives to move forward with the development of shared open data, but the integration of these datasets with information on the knowledge-generation procedures (i.e.: related analytical techniques, instrumentation and research methodologies) developed by each discipline is still lacking. After attending a number of sessions the latest RDA meeting in Denver where advances on linked open data were discussed, we support the idea that rather than creating another new data infrastructure, it would be more effective and sustainable to integrate heritage science data using established formats for sharing, access and reuse. 
The purpose of this proposed BoF meeting is to examine how relevant, existing and future research within Heritage Science projects can make use of, contribute to and be integrated with the work carried out by the RDA. Addressing the scope of the Heritage Science research being carried out, determine how much of it can be represented by existing RDA groups and establish if additional RDA groups might be required.

Additional links to informative material related to the group i.e. group page, Case statement, working documents etc

EU and US initiatives are addressing both cultural and natural heritage – collections, buildings, archaeological sites, digital and intangible heritage – and are working to devise open knowledge systems to facilitate global collaboration. This can be clearly seen in the development of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) pan-European project, which is aiming to support research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. The project will provide state-of-the-art tools and services to interdisciplinary research communities that advance understanding and preservation of global heritage E-RIHS has been accepted into the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) 2016 Roadmap, launched last March in Amsterdam, with the goal of spurring social and cultural innovation. Currently 18 European countries are signatories to E-RIHS as founding members, ten additional countries are identified as potential supporting members, and more than 80 research institutions are engaged in the network. Expansion of E-RIHS to institutions beyond Europe is foreseen. The process is to be developed over the next five years. The intent is to expand this to a global infrastructure, and engaging with colleagues in RDA will greatly facilitate this venture. Amongst its services, E-RIHS will provide access to a wide range of cutting-edge scientific infrastructures, methodologies, data and tools. It will also provide training in the use of these tools, a platform for public engagement, and access to repositories for standardized data storage, analysis and interpretation.
E-RIHS is involved in the activities of the newly launched GEDE-RDA (, together with most of the other EU research infrastructures. Cooperating within the GEDE-RDA discussion forum, E-RIHS will foster the approach, described above, of capitalizing on existing solution to attain the widest possible interoperability across disciplines. This way, research communities will have access to distributed infrastructures in a coordinated and streamlined way, in order to advance their heritage science research through an integrated approach. 
A close interaction of actors dealing with both tangible and intangible aspects of Cultural Heritage Artifacts will eventually bring to light the necessity to align the notion of research data to fit with the various needs of the different research communities involved. Furthermore the collaboration with relevant actors in the ESFRI landscape, such as CENDARI (Collaborative European Digital Archival Research Infrastructure, and DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and the Humanities, as well as with other large scholarly networks will contribute to define the shape and borders of heritage science: the very same Cultural Heritage Artifact could be handled by researchers, adopting different research methodologies, tools and standards and, eventually, the results could be stored in non interoperable data silos, thus preventing a seamless access to all the available information related to a given object (i.e.: physical level), part/component (i.e.: logical level) or concept (i.e.: semantic level) and its contexts (i.e.: origins, provenances etc.). Reducing the gap between tangible and intangible aspects of Cultural Heritage Artifacts and fostering the engagement of scholarly communities that are not yet fully into the digital turn will result in a less fragmented, more accessible and interoperable digital ecosystem for research data on heritage science.

Meeting objectives

- Presentation of E-RIHS and open issues in Heritage Science; 
- Discussion of the way that the Opening Data in Heritage Science initiative could move forward, in collaboration with RDA partners and interest groups;
- Possible impact of European Open Science Cloud in Heritage Science;
- Identification of interested and additional partners to expand and engage a broader more diverse audience

Meeting agenda

1. Presentation of the idea behind this BoF
2. Presentation of Heritage Science in the European Open Science Cloud
3. Overview of the objectives for moving forward and discussion of how to engage with current interest groups, (discussions, all participants)
4. Identification of other potential BoF members (all participants) (5 minutes) 
5. Wrap-up and conclusions


The target audience of this meeting may include other scientific discipline interest groups, cultural heritage members, libraries and archives, research data repository or infrastructure developers and providers, others interested in linked open data between related scientific disciplines. A declared goal of this session is to structure potential future RDA engagement and learn from colleagues in various related scientific disciplines who are facing similar issues. Session organizers would welcome suggestions for improvement and groups to interact with within RDA US and EU.

Group chair serving as contact person: Emiliano Degl'Innocenti

Type of meeting: Working meeting