All posts by admin

Open Research in the Humanities: Research Integrity and Care 

Authors: Emma Gilby, Matthias Ammon, Rachel Leow and Sam Moore

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts presenting the reflections of the Working Group on Open Research in the Humanities.  Read the opening post here. The working group aimed to reframe open research in a way that was more meaningful to humanities disciplines, and their work will inform the University of Cambridge approach to open research.   This post considers research integrity in the context of arts & humanities research.

Research integrity applies to A&H disciplines in gathering CORE data, conveying interpretations, maintaining disciplinary standards, and privileging diversity, transparency, respect, and accountability. This is ‘careful’ scholarship in its truest sense. Our conversation here took the idea of careful scholarship in two main directions, considering the labour associated with the work as process, and the labour associated with establishing and maintaining decolonial integrity. This means allowing for and legitimizing diverse voices, methods and ways of thinking.    


As the Open Research conference held in November 2021 stated in its call for contributions: 

We have moved beyond the myth of the lone genius: research is a collaborative endeavour. We need to approach all stages of research more openly, to facilitate collaboration and the incremental growth of ideas. Breaking down the walls around information will enable more stakeholders, both lay and professional, to become involved and deepen their trust in research.1

In fact, the myth of the lone scholarly genius is a relatively recent phenomenon, and many of the scholarly processes in which the A&H are engaged pre-date it. The open research movement offers authors the opportunity to look beyond their own status as author, to consider the wider scholarly ecosystem, the processes behind scholarship, the networks of people involved, so that these are acknowledged openly rather than lost. As we have already stated, editing is at the heart of scholarly publishing, taking research into a legitimate, citable, creditable publication. This is particularly the case in A&H research that targets smaller scholarly communities: ‘For society publishers, where we see responsiveness to the community of researchers as mission critical, editorial work is mission central.’² 

More fundamentally, a crucial element of research integrity is tackling the need for appropriate and fair representation across a diversity of voices and communities. A major question for arts and humanities research is how to open up and take account of the global wealth of different voices – opening up to ‘fugitive’ voices that have not traditionally been archived or recognised or able to embody the ‘status’ of author in the first place. 

Support required 

As far as the existing scholarly community is concerned, editing can brought into the open: divided into the work of General Editors, who evaluate overall content and the general direction of intellectual contributions, and who make decisions about what work to accept on the basis of peer review; the work of Managing Editors, who are the chief manuscript editors and engage with the business of day-to-day communication with authors; the work of Copy Editors, who make script clear and consistent; and the work of Type Setters, who even in the digital age arrange documents for publication. All these people share care and responsibility for disciplinary standards. They also require a salary, which brings us back to the future of scholarly communications and the question of funding. Making this labour visible and public is an important way to avoid the exploitation (and self-exploitation) that is endemic in academia.  

Careful consideration here needs to be given to the issue of appropriate and fair representation across a diversity of voices and communities. Open research does not necessarily or without effort tackle the omission of voices from the public sphere, typically those of the non-white, non-male, non-cis, non-anglophone world.3 Indeed, without explicit reflection on decolonial integrity, the move towards open research paradoxically risks a homogenizing effect: allowing researchers to disseminate their research on the condition that they imitate or ventriloquize a certain subset of languages or conventions.

[1] Open Research at Cambridge 2021, call for contributions (no longer accessible online)

[2] Angela Cochran and Karin Wulf ‘Editing is at the Heart of Scholarly Publishing’, 24th April 2019,

[3] Lorena Gautherau, ‘Decolonizing the Digital Humanities’,  20th November 2017,; see also the article by Coker and Ozment cited above.

‘We found that Open Science policies, mostly stemming from Europe, frame “openness” as a vehicle to promote technological change as part of an inevitable and necessary cultural shift to modernity in scientific production. The global reach of these narratives, and the technologies, standards and models these narratives sustain, are dictating modes of working and collaborating among those who can access them, and creating new categories of exclusion that invalidate knowledge that cannot meet this criteria, putting historically marginalized researchers and publics at further disadvantage.’ D. Albornoz et al., ‘Framing Power: Tracing Key Discourses in Open Science Policies’, ELPUB 2018,

See also: Rebekka Kiesewetter, Undoing scholarship: Towards an activist genealogy of the OA movement, Tijdschrift voor GenderstudiesVolume 23, Issue 2, Jun 2020, p. 113 – 130 The authors of ‘Labour of Love: An Open Access Manifesto for Freedom, Integrity and Creativity in the Humanities and Interpretive Social Sciences’ refer to ‘the increasingly imperiled principles of academic freedom, integrity, and creativity’.  Andrea E. Pia et al., ’Labour of Love: An Open Access Manifesto for Freedom, Integrity, and Creativity in the Humanities and Interpretive Social Sciences’, 16th July 2020,

Open Research in the Humanities: CORE Data

Authors: Emma Gilby, Matthias Ammon, Rachel Leow and Sam Moore

This is the third of a series of blog posts, presenting the reflections of the Working Group on Open Research in the Humanities. Read the opening post at this link. The working group aimed to reframe open research in a way that was more meaningful to humanities disciplines, and their work will inform the University of Cambridge approach to open research. This post reflects on the concept of FAIR data and proposes an alternative way of thinking about data in the humanities.

As a rule, data in the arts and humanities is collected, organised, recontextualised and explained. We are therefore putting forward this acronym as an alternative to LERU’s FAIR data (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable). Our data is collected rather than generated; organised and recontextualised in order to further a cultural conversation about discoveries, methods and debates; and explained as part of the analytical process. Any view of scholarly comms as uniquely about the distribution of and access to FAIR data (‘from my bench to yours’) will seem less relevant to A&H academics. Similarly, the goal of reproducibility of data – in the sense in which this often appears in the sciences and social sciences, where it refers to the results of a study being perfectly replicable when the study is repeated – is, if anything, contrary to the aim of CORE data: i.e. the aim that this data should be built upon and thereby modified through the process of further recontextualization. Our CORE data, then, understood as information used for reference and analysis, is made up of texts, music, pictures, fabrics, objects, installations, performances, etc. Sometimes, this information does not belong to us, but is owned by another person or institution or community, in which case it is not ours to make public.


The A&H tend to bring information together in new ways to further discussion about socio-cultural developments across the globe. Available digital data is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that is worked with.[1] Arts and humanities scholars, who spend their lives thinking about the arrangement and communication of information, are acutely aware that archives (digital and otherwise) are not neutral spaces, but man-made and the product of human choices. This means that information available online, to a broadband-enabled public, is asymmetrical and distorted.

One of the main benefits of open research is that it is thought to make data globally accessible, especially to ‘the global south’ and to institutions with fewer available funds to ‘buy data in’. As we explore below (‘research integrity’), this unidirectional view of open access is problematic. In general, digital material tends to reproduce English-speaking structures and epistemologies. As FAIR data is redefined as CORE data, an attention to context will hopefully promote the diverse positions occupied by all those who make up the world and who produce research about it.

Support required

In order usefully to employ CORE data in the A&H, we need to bring to the surface and examine underlying assumptions about knowledge creation as well as knowledge dissemination.

The work of the digital humanities – rooted explicitly in digital technologies and the forms of communication that they enable – is obviously a vital part of these discussions about opening up the CORE data of the humanities. Digital work, in the same way as any other successful A&H research, needs to consider its own materiality and conditions of production, evaluate its own history, draw attention to its own limits, and navigate its trans-temporal relationships with data in other forms (the manuscript, the printed text, the painting, the piece of music). This is a developing field and one that still has an uneasy relationship with the existing tenure/promotions system.[2] Colleagues noted that training needs are evolving constantly. It is often hard to know where to turn for specific guidance in e.g. how to manage one’s own ‘born digital’ archives, how to deconstruct a twitter archive, and so on.

This issue also overlaps with the need, as part of the ‘rewards and incentives’ process outlined below, to evaluate the success of colleagues as they undertake this training and negotiate with these processes. DH is one of the most exciting and rapidly developing areas of research and needs to be widely resourced. But it would also be harmful to collapse all A&H research into ‘the digital humanities’. The work of colleagues whose CORE data is resistant, for whatever reason, to wide online dissemination in English also needs to be allocated the value it deserves: some publics are simply smaller than others.

Postscript: the group subsequently became aware of the CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance. These principles will also be considered when developing our services in support of data management and ethical sharing.

[1] Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra, ‘The Risk of Losing the Thick Description: Data Management Challenges Faced by the Arts and Humanities in the Evolving FAIR Data Ecosystem’, in Digital Technologies and the Practices of Humanities Research, edited by Jennifer Edmond (Open Book Publishers, 2014),

[2]See the excellent article by Cait Coker and Kate Ozment ‘Building the Women in Book History Bibliography, or Digital Enumerative Bibliography as Preservation of Feminist Labor’, Digital Humanities Quarterly 13 (3), 2019, – where the authors of the ‘Women in Book History’ digital bibliography still see the tenure system as ‘monograph-driven’, and had to fund their research through selling merchandise.