The AHDS E-Science Scoping Study has not been part of the AHRC funded first e-Science workshop series. It has been a separate project funded by the AHRC to hold a series of workshops to find subject-specific 'grand challenges' for the arts and humanities.
Subject areas covered were:
A technology associated with e-Science that has already proved of considerable interest to humanities scholars is the Access Grid (AG). This may be envisaged as a form of advanced video-conferencing operated over high-speed networks; however, it differs from conventional video-conferencing in offering large-screen display, thereby accommodating increased numbers of participants. The AG supports multiple camera locations for each participating venue, and offers good sound quality. Above all, it provides flexibility in the incorporation of (largely open-source) software into video-conferencing sessions. However, use of the AG has hitherto to a large extent treated it as a high-end video-conference solution, as illustrated by AG documentation such as the tutorial produced by the National Centre for e-Social Science, which focuses on issues such as etiquette in video-conferenced meetings, paying little attention to the potential of AG sessions for sharing and collaborative discussion of ICT-based research. To address this shortcoming, the project 'The Access Grid in Collaborative Arts and Humanities Research' proposes a series of four workshops exploring how the AG might allow arts and humanities researchers who have already made extensive use of ICT to share and discuss work in a wide variety of digital media, and thereby evaluate the potential of grid technologies to develop and enhance their work. While the workshops will seek to foster new collaborative activities on the basis of interaction between first-phase humanities computing projects, invitees will also include researchers from relevant subject areas with less technical expertise; it is anticipated that the workshops will thereby increase awareness of the potential application of e-Science to arts and humanities research more generally.
The JISC funded Building a Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities (BVREH) project has recently been carrying out an extensive user requirements survey of humanities researchers at Oxford University. This is one of a number of ICT projects based in the humanities which have begun to focus on user requirements gathering prior to developing technology. The project feels that this is an important time to bring together these initiatives and work towards building a requirements capturing community for the humanities sector. The proposed workshops will be of particular importance in identifying the needs of humanities researchers in a broad range of subject areas and disciplines. Building on the existing expertise in e-Science they will attempt to identify ways in which humanities research can develop equivalent and inter-disciplinary structures and methodologies which will serve the needs of the research community and link it more firmly to ICT research structures on a national scale. The three workshops will be designed to build a community in which the methodologies for humanities requirements gathering will continue to grow and evolve. The programme is designed to provide an understanding of where the current issues and gaps in humanities user requirements are, what methodologies and practices currently exist, including which would be useful to adopt and which might be created. Finally the programme will define how the community will use the knowledge gained to develop coherent methodologies for future projects.