Millions in funding allocated to digital infrastructure for social sciences and humanities

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded fifteen national knowledge partners, including Utrecht University, a grant totalling 15.2 million euros. Researchers will use this grant to collaborate in the Social Sciences and Humanities Open Cloud for the Netherlands (SSHOC-NL) project. The SSHOC-NL project will enable researchers in social sciences and humanities to securely and ethically link and analyse a huge volume of data. Chantal Kemner, Professor of Developmental Biological Psychology and one of the co-applicants: ‘SSHOC is crucial to be able to make a contribution to resolving current social problems.’

Puntjes bijeenbrengen

At present, the fields of social sciences and humanities each have their own data sharing infrastructure: ODISSEI is the national infrastructure for social sciences in the Netherlands, while CLARIAH is the leading infrastructure in the field of the humanities. With the arrival of SSHOC-NL, these two separate infrastructures will be combined. Kemner: ‘By joining forces, we can simply cater to a broader field. This will make even more data accessible to more scientists.’

Social inequalities

The social problems that researchers will be able to better examine thanks to the collaboration range from the increasing polarisation in society to the decisive factors and consequences of climate change. The new digital infrastructure will also provide better insight into social inequalities, as the social sciences and humanities both have data on historical as well as contemporary inequalities. Combining these data sets will enable researchers from both fields to understand how social inequalities are reinforced and reflected over the years in society.

We lead the way in the Netherlands in making data FAIR.

Utrecht University is well represented

The grant application for the SSHOC project was submitted on behalf of the fifteen knowledge partners by one main applicant and ten co-applicants. Four of these ten co-applicants work at Utrecht University: Antal van den Bosch, José van Dijck, Chantal Kemner and Daniel Oberski. The fact that Utrecht University is so well represented in SSHOC is hardly surprising, as it already runs several successful projects in the area of data infrastructure, such as FIRMBACKBONE, SoDa and the HDS group.

Kemner explains that UU researchers are also already hard at work on setting up accessible data infrastructure within the YOUth study: ‘Take the example of Yoda, the data management system developed for YOUth. We launched it here in Utrecht and it has since been introduced nationwide. In this respect, we lead the way in the Netherlands in making data FAIR.’

The Utrecht researchers involved in the grant application alongside Van den Bosch, Van Dijck, Kemner, and Oberski are: Laura Boeschoten, Rense Corten, Jasmijn van GorpErik-Jan van Kesteren, and Peter Lugtig.

Besides Van den Bosch, Van Dijck, Kemner and Oberski, the following UU researchers were involved with the grant application: Laura Boeschoten, Rense Corten, Erik-Jan van Kesteren and Peter Lugtig.