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Infrastructure as intermeditation – from archives to research infrastructures

Sheila Anderson (Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom)
Tobias Blanke (Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 October 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the steps taken to produce new kinds of integrated documentation on the Holocaust in the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure project. The authors present the user investigation methodology as well as the novel data design to support this complex field.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on the scholarly primitives framework. From here, it proceeds with two empirical studies of Holocaust archival research and the implementation steps taken. The paper employs key insights from large technology studies in how to organise such work. In particular, it uses the concepts of social-technical assemblages and intermediation.

Findings

The paper offers a number of findings. First from the empirical studies, it presents how Holocaust researchers and archivist perceive the way they currently do research in archives. It then presents how the intermediation and digital transformation of such research can be enabled without violating its foundations. The second major insight is the technical research into how to use graph databases to integrate heterogeneous research collections and the analysis opportunities behind.

Originality/value

The paper is based on existing work by the authors but takes this work forward into the world of real-life existing historical research on archives. It demonstrates how the theoretical foundations of primitives are fit for purpose. The paper presents a completely new approach on how to (re)organise archives as research infrastructures and offers a flexible way of implementing this. Next to these major insights, a range of new solutions are presented how to arrange the socio-technical assemblages of research infrastructures.

Keywords

Citation

Anderson, S. and Blanke, T. (2015), "Infrastructure as intermeditation – from archives to research infrastructures", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 6, pp. 1183-1202. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-07-2014-0095

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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