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

NWO awards 15 national knowledge partners, including Utrecht University, a grant totalling 15.2 million euros. With this grant, researchers will collaborate in the Social Science and Humanities Open Cloud for the Netherlands (SSHOC-NL) project. SSHOC-NL enables researchers within social sciences and humanities to securely and ethically connect and analyse a large amount of data. Chantal Kemner , Professor of Biological Developmental Psychology and one of the co-applicants: "SSHOC is of great importance to be able to contribute to solving current social problems."

For now, the 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 a leading humanities infrastructure. With the arrival of SSHOC-NL, the two separate infrastructures will be combined. Kemner: "By merging, we can simply serve a wider field. This way, we will make even more data accessible to even more researchers."

Social inequalities

The social problems that can be better explored thanks to collaboration range from increased polarisation in society to determining factors and consequences of climate change. The new digital infrastructure can also make social inequalities more transparent: social sciences and humanities both collect data on historical as well as contemporary inequalities. By merging these, it helps researchers from both disciplines understand how social inequalities are reinforced and reflected in society over the years.

We are leading the way in making data FAIR.

Utrecht well represented

The grant application, put out by 15 partners in knowledge, has one lead applicant and ten co-applicants. Four of these ten co-applicants are working at Utrecht University:  Antal van den Bosch , José van Dijck , Chantal Kemner, and  Daniel Oberski. That Utrecht is so well represented in SSHOC is no surprise: in the field of data infrastructure there are several successful Utrecht projects running right now. Think of  FIRMBACKBONE , SoDa , and the  HDS group.

Kemner makes it clear that a lot of work is also being done within  Youth research  to set up accessible data infrastructure: "Take something like Yoda, a data management system developed for Youth. We started this in Utrecht, but it has now been implemented nationwide. With that, we are leading the way 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 , Erik-Jan van Kesteren , and  Peter Lugtig.