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Humlab - research infrastructure for Digital Humanities

Research infrastructure Humlab is a work unit at the Faculty of Humanities with an assignment "to initiate, inspire and develop the relationship between the humanities, culture and information technology in research, postgraduate education and teaching [...] Humlab shall be a strong competence center at Umeå University with access to technical environment specifically for digital humanities ”(from Humlab's mission statement).

For Humlab's part, this means studying society's digitization and its consequences for individuals and groups on the basis of a critical humanistic perspective, as well as studying humanistic issues with digital tools and methods. Humlab mainly operates in four different focus areas: digital practices, digital pedagogy, and method and tool development within text analysis and data visualization.

Humlab provides technology (software and hardware) and competencies (technical and academic) to initiate, develop and run research projects - currently some twenty in, for example, archaeology (together with the Environmental archaeology laboratory), media and communication science, Nordic languages, history of ideas (at Uppsala University), Sami studies and history. The model for research collaboration is based on Humlab participating throughout the process; from initiation, formulation of research issues, project design, and implementation.

Humlab also leads the digital pedagogical development at the faculty. Doctoral students are supervised and doctoral courses are given repeatedly (among other things with Digsum at the Faculty of Social Sciences); basic education commitments are held together with programs given at the Faculty of Humanities, and in addition, Humlab holds about ten short courses per semester based on current themes, issues, and software. The faculty's ICT coach is employed by Humlab.

Research collaboration exists with, for example, the University of Gothenburg, King's College London, Lund University, Stanford University, the University of Tromsø, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Strategic relevance

It is by developing and coordinating competencies and technology that Humlab builds and forms a research environment in the digital humanities. As a faculty-wide resource for this interdisciplinary field, Humlab serves as a node for research and teaching within Digital Humanities.

In addition to being an infrastructure in the Digital Humanities, Humlab is part of the national VR-funded language technology SweClarin network, and is also included in the 2017 needs inventory as part of a national visualization infrastructure.

Through a combination of academic, pedagogical and technical competence (teachers / researchers, system developers, programmers, technicians), the research can be driven forward. A combination of academic and technical competence is required to chisel out relevant research issues, in relation to concrete research projects, which are then the starting point for the methods and tools developed to answer the research questions. In that sense, Humlab is both a tactical sounding board and implementer, in both the projects' development and implementation phase.

Different projects can be based on similar methods, technical components or competencies, and therefore Humlab coordinates development and maintenance between projects. This is to be able to ensure a cumulative knowledge transfer between otherwise separate projects.

Humlab is an important resource for maintaining and "operating" software and databases for individual project times, which is necessary to ensure project survival after their completion. Otherwise, there is no stable operating environment for the various, often relatively small, projects.