Projects from CLS and RICH funded by Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH

Date of news: 3 June 2020

Two project proposals from the Radboud University will receive funds from the Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH. The platform launched the 'Call for Proposals Digital Infrastructure in the social science and humanities' to find answers to major challenges that all sectors of the social sciences and humanities (SSH) are facing.

The challenges concern big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and social media. They relate to both social issues and scientific practice itself.

The honoured proposals

Legacies of bondage: towards a database of Surinamese life courses in a multigenerational perspective (1830-1950)

Applicant: prof. dr. Jan Kok and co-applicant dr. Coen van Galen both from the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH)

This proposal aims to construct a consolidated database of the population of Suriname between 1830 and 1950. The rich archival sources of Suriname offer the opportunity to combine records on the individual lives of enslaved, bonded labourers and free inhabitants over five or six generations. This makes it possible to study social processes and diversity in a colonial society as well as the repercussions of slavery over multiple generations. This makes this project truly unique.

This digital infrastructure facility will have a major impact on research, because it can be used to answer a wide range of questions from scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and life sciences. To make the database accessible for different types of questions we will publish the data in two different formats; 1) transcribed datasets of each individual archival source, which will be useful for genealogists, school projects and qualitative historians, and 2) a database with reconstructed life courses including links to family members, spanning several generations. This project starts from a proven concept, developed for the Surinamese slave registers database which was published in 2018/2019, and will include citizen science.

Homo Medicinalis. Recognising the voices of patients to retrace the opinions about medicines (HoMed)

Applicant: dr. Henk van den Heuvel from the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) in collaboration with others

HoMed will implement a SSH research infrastructure with an enormous potential for automatic transcription of sensitive audio-visual (AV) recordings. Its use case will focus on AV-recordings of medical consultations on the use of pharmaceuticals (henceforth ‘MedPharm’). MedPharm in practice shows situations where patients often appear not to be able to understand proper medicine use. To overcome unintentional medicine use we need to better understand the attribution of meaning to medicines. Therefore, recordings and transcriptions of patient consultations are needed.

In HoMed a standard automatic speech recogniser (ASR) for Dutch will be adapted to MedPharm discourses, since essential jargon is not part of the vocabulary of the current generic ASR. The ASR will be retrained on existing radio and tv data and on highly sensitive AV-recordings of patient consultations at Nivel. The resulting infrastructure will be made available (i) as component of the ASR-service in CLARIAH’s Infrastructure (accessible via the Media Suite) and (ii) via Stichting OpenSpraaktechnologie to be used as a service tool in similar projects. In addition, a standalone version of the infrastructure developed for Nivel can be employed for sensitive data analysis under intramural conditions. The application will fully comply with the GDPR.

Call for Proposals of the Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH

After a careful review process, following with the criteria as described in the Call for Proposals of the Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH, 12 of 33 applications were accepted. The review process consisted of several steps. The disciplinary review committees (consisting of independent reviewers) reviewed the submitted proposals and issued independent advice to the SSH Council. The SSH Council, after consulting representatives of the three largest Dutch infrastructures (CLARIAH, Health-RI and ODISSEI), prioritised these opinions and took the final decision. The Board of the PDI-SSH Foundation implements that decision. PDI-SSH launched this call as part of the SSH Sector Plan.