One of the talking points at the History of Science Society's 2013 business meeting this Sunday was the recent report by the Committee for Research & the Profession's (CoRP) Data-Management Task-Force on the NSF's new requirements concerning data management and data management plans. ASU's Julia Damerow, Erick Peirson, Matt Chew, and Manfred Laubichler all participated in the task force. The report reflects on the what constitutes data in the history of science, what it means to preserve those data, what should and should not be shared, and a constellation of other issues surrounding the availability of historical research data. Especially in the context of quantitative and computational approaches to historical research, these considerations are pressing and immediate.
The report considers two potential initiatives by the History of Science Society to address data management needs: project-based bibliographies, and an HSS data repository.
The existing system of repositories has gaps in it of two types. First, many historians of science, especially, but not exclusively independent scholars, may not have access to suitable institutional repositories for their data. Second, for all historians there are unresolved questions how the cost of long-term preservation and exposure of data will be met. ... It may well be, therefore, that such a repository shall be an essential component of history of science research in the future. Such a repository would bring together (if not necessarily uniquely hold) data sets that could be constructed according to accepted standards but with the added features needed to make them particularly useful for historians of science. ... In so doing, it would become, ideally, a site where data sets created for one purpose could be merged and manipulated to address new questions. ... Such a fully developed repository could streamline data management for historians of science and be a model for other learned societies.
The report was published in the October edition of the HSS newsletter, and can be found here.
On Friday, September 6, PhD candidates Julia Damerow and Erick Peirson gave a joint presentation at the annual meeting of the international Digital History & Philosophy of Science Consortium at Indiana University. Their presentation, titled "Don't panic! Vogon 2.0: Products and Progress in the Sonoran Desert," gave a brief synopsis of recent work on the Genecology Project, Vogon, Quadriga, and the structure of the new ASU Digital Innovation Group. Two more ASU presentations, from Jane Maienschein and PhD candidate Erica O'Neil about the Embryo Project and other Digital HPS projects, will take place today (Saturday, September 7).
The meeting was attended by scholars from the UK, US, Germany, and France. The mission of the Digital HPS Consortium is to "develop, support, and promote digital HPS projects, including editing, publishing, and scholarly tools to make this possible. Insofar as possible, and recognizing the challenges and constraints, the Consortium is committed to open source and open access products."
Manfred Laubichler recently attended the Isis Current Bibliography 2.0 Conference:
What is the future of bibliography in the digital age? Because most people think of a bibliography as simply an index of citations used to locate relevant material for their research, it might be argued that the growing ubiquity of full-text search engines is making human-compiled bibliographies superfluous. I believe that this is not the case. The current digital, data-rich environment has changed research practices in fundamental ways, but this environment has not eliminated the usefulness of specialized bibliographies. The changes do, however, force us to rethink what a bibliography can and should do. We are in the midst of a wholesale transformation in the way that scholarship takes place. How knowledge has come to be produced, saved, and shared is reformulating what scholars do. The new field of digital humanities is pushing the boundaries of this information-based world, and many scholars are building extraordinary new research tools.
You can read the full text online (open access!) here.
Abstract. Computational methods and perspectives can transform the history of science by enabling the pursuit of novel types of questions, dramatically expanding the scale of analysis (geographically and temporally), and offering novel forms of publication that greatly enhance access and transparency. This essay presents a brief summary of a computational research system for the history of science, discussing its implications for research, education, and publication practices and its connections to the open-access movement and similar transformations in the natural and social sciences that emphasize big data. It also argues that computational approaches help to reconnect the history of science to individual scientific disciplines.
On April 1 - 3, 2013, the Laubichler lab was very pleased to welcome two guests from the Santa Fe Institute: computational ecologist Dr. Jennifer Dunne and theoretical biologist Dr. Peter Stadler. Dr. Dunne gave the School of Life Sciences seminar, titled "The roles of human foragers in North Pacific marine food webs." The visit was a great opportunity to discuss the challenges and future directions of computational approaches to research in the history and philosophy of science.
On September 6-8, 2012, an international group of scholars, research librarians, and computer scientists convened for the 9th meeting of the Digital History and Philosophy of Science Consortium at the University of Cambridge. The conversation started nearly a decade ago, spurred by the rapid proliferation of digital and computational approaches within the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) community. This year's meeting addressed the latest innovations within digital HPS, from open-access publishing, to global crowd-sourcing and computational approaches to textual analysis. Over the course of two and a half days, participants converged upon a set of intellectual and architectural goals for the digital HPS community, including a resolution toward open-access tool-sharing and strengthening of inter-institutional and interdisciplinary collaborations.