27. Februar 2023

With its recommendation in 2016, the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII) provided the impetus for the establishment of a National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). In 2018, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) approved this recommendation. The NFDI is intended to create a permanent digital infrastructure for Germany in order to counteract the problem that data is currently mostly decentralised, project-related and/or only available for a limited period of time. The aim is the systematical provision of research data in accordance with the FAIR Data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

Within three rounds of calls – organised by the German Research Foundation (DFG) – 27 consortia from all disciplines were selected and now receive funding. Text+, which is focused on language and text data, was selected in the second round with funding starting in October 2021. Within the consortium, the data are currently structured according to the three data domains or task areas (TA) of digital collections, lexical resources and editions. Besides the five applicant institutions Leibniz Institute for the German Language, Mannheim (IDS), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), the German National Library (DNB), the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB), and the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts (AWK NRW), about thirty institutions participate as funded partners in Text+ as well as various scientific societies, associations and Specialised Information Services. The HAB acts as a data and competence centre in the TA ‘Editions’ in the clusters ‘Ancient and Medieval Texts’ and ‘Early Modern, Modern and Contemporary Texts’.

In the task area, colleagues with very different backgrounds from a total of eleven institutions work together to meet the needs of the humanities‘ scientific community. These are addressed on various levels and organised within five measures (M).

Abb. 1: Task Areas oder Datendomänen in Text+, organisiert in fünf Measures (Text+)
Fig. 1: Text Areas or Data Domains in Text+, organised in five different measures (by Text+)

In the TA ‘Editions’ M1 a curated directory of editions is created. The aim is to increase the visibility and accessibility of editions and to facilitate access to research data. Added value compared to existing catalogues results from the joint recording of both printed and digital editions, as well as completed and ongoing projects, from the consideration of the FAIR principles, and the link to a software registry (to be built in M5) to also make the technical genesis of an edition comprehensible. The edition registry is part of an overarching Text+ registry (cf. Fig. 2) that relates resources of the different data domains.

Abb. 2: Skizze der Text+ Registry (von Tobias Gradl, MinfBA)
Fig. 2: Sketch of the Text+ registry (by Tobias Gradl, MinfBA)

M2 forms the central hub of the TA, since it serves to catalogue and update the portfolio that the Text+ partners bring into the consortium, and also to communicate this portfolio internally (reporting) and externally (science communication). As a core task of the TA Editions is to develop recommendations for the creation, processing and publication of editions‘ data, focuses are on its standardisation (M3) as well as on the empowerment of others via a thorough training and consulting scheme (M4). The application of FAIR principles is becoming increasingly important for digital resources, but has not yet been discussed in depth in the context of editions. Within M3, the discourse on best practices in the creation and publication of digital editions in general and in the application of the FAIR principles in particular is promoted, hopefully leading to generally applicable recommendations for the scientific community. In the area of consulting, a survey has been conducted to find out more about the key aspects, expertise and practices of the partners involved in the TA ‘Editions’. On this basis, an expertise matrix was created, which should help to tailor consulting services and enable the identification of experts for certain areas.

Besides the aforementioned trainings, workshops and consulting services, that are available to all those interested, Text+ offers further opportunities for participation in or collaboration with the consortium:

Text+ cooperates with RIDE, an open access journal for reviews of digital scholarly editions, text collections, and tools and research environments for digital editions. A first joint issue focusing on the FAIRness of (three planned) digital editions will be published soon. The call for reviews is still running, so that interested parties can get in touch with the editors (ed.e-1680094405d-i@s1680094405ulptx1680094405et-ed1680094405ir1680094405). It is possible to propose resources for a review, to become active as a reviewer yourself, and/or act as an external peer reviewer in the double-blind peer-review to ensure the quality of the publications.

Another example of how one can get involved in Text+ as an individual researcher is the Text+ blog launched in November 2022. The posts are concerned with all kinds of topics around Text+ and the NFDI, including information on events, announcements, reviews, insights into all TAs, information on partners, the presentation of resources, opinion pieces etc. In addition to contributions by the editorial team and from Text+ staff, guest contributions are highly welcome, which gives researchers the opportunity to present on their own work, projects and the like, or to write about specific topics.

Even more interesting, because there are funds associated with it, are the so-called Flexfunds. The consortium awards funding to continuously expand its range of data and services available for use by the scientific community. The calls are tendered annually, with successful applicants receiving funding for one year. The funds are not intended to building up new resources from scratch, but e.g. to prepare existing data in such a way that they can be made available via a Text+ data centre, to enhance a project with relevant functionalities, or to do a pilot study. The next round of calls (for funding in 2024) has just begun.