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Research Networking Highlight Notice for UK–US Collaborations in Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is pleased to announce a new highlight notice in its Research Networking scheme providing funding opportunities for UK-US research networks focused on digital scholarship in cultural institutions.

The call responds to the technological shift taking place in the cultural and creative industries as a result of digitisation, mobile access, social media, machine learning and immersive technologies. By facilitating new transatlantic partnerships in digital scholarship between world-leading museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other cognate cultural institutions, it will help to build capacity in the application of digital methods and technologies, support innovative cross-disciplinary projects and pioneer new approaches to audience engagement.

The networks will offer a platform for HEIs, museums and other cultural institutions  in the UK and US to develop new partnerships in digital scholarship, interrogate key themes and shape priorities with a view to larger, longer-term collaboration. The highlight notice is open to a wide range of proposals that take innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to explore areas such as:

  • Machine learning / AI, particularly for the analysis and exploration of image-based collections, including ethical issues and technical challenges
  • Crowdsourcing and models of co-creation such as approaches to community engagement and the involvement of marginalised and disenfranchised communities
  • Developing enhanced information on museum visitors, for example through the combination of multiple data sets and including ethical issues relating to, for example, visitor tracking
  • Opportunities presented by, for example: optical character recognition, text extraction and parsing and the linking of data from digitised records; geo-location and network analysis; the annotation of resources; social networking analysis; and the interrogation of all media types including complex fields such as sound
  • Understanding the impact of digitised and digital collections – how these resources are being used by researchers and how researchers' engagement with museum collections might change as a result, including gap and trend analysis
  • investigating the potential for digital tools in areas such as  linked data for provenance research, and research into topics including commercialisation and trafficking.

Due to the international focus of the networks, proposals submitted to this highlight notice will be eligible to request an additional £30,000 on top of the standard networking limit of £30,000 (i.e. to a total value of £60,000). US partners will be expected to provide some level of matched resource, either cash or in-kind.

The networks will be required to start by 1 February 2019 and will be for a maximum duration of one year. Funding will support a broad range of activity aimed at facilitating new collaborations in the field including scoping work, workshops, seminars and other networking activity.