An issue brief from Ithaka S+R, “Are the Humanities Ready for Data Sharing?” reports on the paucity of data sharing practices in the humanities, on the heels of the “Nelson Memo,” which states that publicly funded publications (including those with NEH funds) must to deposit their datasets into publicly accessible repositories. The brief introduces the relevance to digital humanists with:
While the NEH funds only a tiny percentage of research and publications in the humanities, its inclusion in the Nelson memo and in the “year of open science” is clear evidence that humanists—who have largely existed on the margins of major trends towards mandatory data sharing that are transforming research practices and scholarly communication in other fields—must now consider their place in this policy landscape. It is not yet clear how the NEH will define data for the purposes of compliance with the Nelson memo, but the requirement that they do so should stimulate conversation about data sharing in the humanities. When should the evidence humanists collect be considered data? How might humanists adopt STEM-oriented norms around data sharing, and what might humanists bring to the table that would help other fields improve their data sharing practices?
The brief includes interviews with 4 scholars involved with DH projects who have provided insights on planning ahead for data sharing, how and where they made their data available, and what they did to address barriers to this practice.