Scholarly Digital Publishing: Beyond the Printed Book

May 29, 2018
linked open data

On April 6th, I Tatti hosted an international workshop dedicated to advancing the field of scholarly digital publishing. The Harvard center invited colleagues from four leading research institutes across Europe --The Biblioteca Hertziana Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and the Max Planck institute for the History of Science in Berlin — to explore innovative forms of publishing historical sources and scholarly narratives coupled with structured research data. This newly-formed consortium aims to develop a collection of linked research infrastructures that allow users to seamlessly navigate a complex network of scholarly assertions made by their respective researchers. By making a commitment to harmonizing data structures, as well as collaborating on the underlying digital research infrastructure that is to support these data, the initiative will enable the cross-pollination of diverse digital projects across institutions. An array of digital projects will be supported by this initiative: the correspondence of Art Historian Jacob Burckhardt (Villa I Tatti / European Research Council -, a digital edition of Bernard Berenson’s The Drawings of the Florentine Painters (Villa I Tatti), critical editions of Heinrich Wölfflin’s The Principles of Art History (Biblioteca Hertziana/University of Zurich), The Swiss Art Research Infrastructure project (University of Zurich), and the De Sphaera CorpusTracer project (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), among many others. Utilizing Linked Open Data, these semantically enriched scholarly narratives and historical documents will contribute to a vibrant culture of open scholarship and collaboration among researchers, disrupting barriers posed by proprietary databases where information is kept in silos. The nature of this machine-readable data lends itself well to both structured and serendipitous discoveries, making it attractive and engaging to both undergraduates and seasoned scholars alike. The overarching aim is to advance the global paradigm shift in publishing models, away from inward looking, closed and costly strategies, towards an open and inclusive model that encourages collaboration and open-access.