The e-Science Center is part of the University’s Center for Information, Communication, and Media (IKM) and provides the infrastructure necessary to promote efficient and sustainable use of digital research methods, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Initial projects have been set up with a wide range of subjects from more than 15 different departments. A strong focus of the center’s efforts lies in the support of major collaborative research centers and research training groups.

Data Management and Archiving Platform

We expect that in the next decade the sustainable storage of research data to become one of the major responsibilities of Universities and research institutions. To address this growing need, one of the core directives of the eScience-Center is the development and maintenance of a standardized and sustainable digital archiving system for primary research data. A first prototype was released and made available to a wide range of test users who use a variety of data types. The development of precise definitions for essential metadata that work within a standard schema is crucial for creating reusable datasets that will be available over long periods of time. Therefore, the eScience-Center will work closely with test users and recommend digital methods that are appropriate to specific research projects, identify new digital directions for their research, develop data customized management plans, and describe metadata-schemes. The digital archive system is expected be operational for all projects in 2016.

In the future, the eScience-Center will be responsible for maintaining the archive infrastructure and the stored data throughout its lifespan by following the recommendations of the Open Archival Information System (OAIS). In addition, the eScience-Center will support new research projects through the development and establishment of data management plans and metadata schemes.

Digital Humanities Study Module

The eScience-Center is responsible for the “Digital Humanities” study program funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The program focuses on teaching technologies that can be applied to a wide range of research areas within the Humanities. The eScience-Center offers both introductory and advanced courses in digital humanities with an emphasis on the technologies of digital text edition and computer applications in archaeology. In these fields, technological skills are increasingly important in the labor market.

Research & Consulting

As a third focus, the eScience-Center is available for consulting on new and ongoing projects to help to select and develop digital tools and strategies that enhance research. The eScience-Center was instrumental in the selection and evaluation of appropriate technologies for a number of archaeological field projects that included GPS-based mapping, aerial photography from UAVs (drones) and image processing. The eScience-Center is also involved as a partner in several research projects, mainly with a focus on spatial technologies in humanities, such as the virtual spatial data research platform “Spacialist” or the “Digital Euting Project” which connects a digital text edition of historic journals with a geoinformation system. In these projects the eScience-Center has been developing several software prototypes that we contribute to the community using free and open-source software licenses.