4Memory is pursuing six main objectives that reflect the major needs of the historically engaged disciplines:
1. Securing Quality Standards: 4Memory will ensure quality standards and retrievability by bringing together different kinds of research data with information on their origins, contexts, usage, rights and licenses. Research libraries, archives, and other memory institutions as well as universities and non-university research institutions have expertise regarding this challenging task. Our consortium is building on projects and long-term funded initiatives and platforms in order to connect an increasing number of digitized manuscripts with metadata and relevant research literature. For example, in order to address specific issues internationally across institutes as well as disciplines, our consortium has been developing a task force on norm data that will guarantee interoperability within the NFDI as a whole.
2. Implementing Data Linkage: The systematic preparation and combination of research data and source data on the one hand and the possibility, on the other hand, of examining and verifying research data of all kinds on the basis of analogue, digitalized as well as and digital-born sources offers great potential for innovative research. Such a systematic interlinking across types of data requires the development, efficient implementation and maintenance of hypermedia structures. These structures must be created as a new academic-led digital knowledge system based on ontologies that will offer orientation in the digital knowledge space: an academic-led ordering of knowledge – unlike that offered by commercial providers – will not only make “hits” visible but also reveal the context of what we know and point out the gaps in our knowledge: i.e., material that has hitherto had only limited availability, has been lost, or is non-existent. The new digital ordering of knowledge needs to be explicit and transparent, making it capable of being interrogated and analysed.
3. Providing Digital Services: In close cooperation with the users, our consortium is identifying the tools and services necessary for supporting institutions in research data management and establishing the corresponding technical and organizational structures. These are based on the needs that emerge throughout the data life cycle and in accordance with the FAIR principles (i.e., that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable). Our starting points are existing open and documented standards (e.g. the International Image Interoperability Framework – IIIF). The consortium will adapt existing services and tools and close the remaining gaps through further developing available solutions and, when necessary, creating new ones. Important topics in this regard include persistent identification, rights management, semantic technologies as well as data analysis, annotation and enrichment. By providing best-practice guidelines, interface specifications and software architecture templates, the consortium will also address the issue of the sustainability of tools and services and contribute significantly to the formation of structures in the digital humanities.
4. Developing Digital Literacy: 4Memory is developing specialized methodological innovation and activities in the field of digital literacy. The consortium critically reflects upon the relations among data, norm data, metadata, and knowledge with the aim to build on, develop and safeguard the specialized competencies of historical analysis.
5. Creating a New Data Culture: We address the ongoing need in academic fields engaging in historical research to raise awareness of the relevant FAIR principles across all areas and phases of the research process. 4Memory therefore is creating a national node to provide support and material through training formats designed to serve both the scholarly user community and a broader process of societal transfer beyond academia. The services we will provide are based on the principles of “teaching the teachers” and “peer-to-peer training”. Continuing education and advanced training will also be offered to researchers – especially early career researchers – to equip them with the relevant skills and to ensure that adequate research data management measures can be implemented independently. Our consortium will also develop digital-humanities curricula for universities. 4Memory will support university departments in embedding digital research and infrastructures in their training for students, PhDs, and postdocs and support the development of new career paths in the digital humanities. This is closely linked with the dissemination of best-practice examples for advanced training in the area of data literacy.
6. Fostering International Co-operation and Data Integration: 4Memory is deepening the international networks of all consortium partners and expanding them through new collaborations. Some may build on networks established through Horizon2020, for example the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (2016–2025), European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), hypotheses.org, Europeana and Europeana pro as well as the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CEESDA). Plans have also been made to integrate data from 4Memory into the EOSC, thereby broadening the user-base for historical research in international contexts. Furthermore, connections will be established with the large international initiatives RDA and GoFAIR.
These general objectives will be the baseline for creating the concrete work program in an iterative process with both the participants involved and the broader communities of scholars they represent. The resulting task areas will include not only specific measures such as services and standards, but also tasks related to management, governance, and cross-cutting issues such as standardization, interoperability, data ownership, data protection, and authority data management.