Discuss Data

Open Platform for the Interactive Discussion of Research Data Quality (on the example of area studies on the post-Soviet region)

Discuss Data is a collaborative project of Göttingen State and University Library and the Research Centre for East-European Studies at the University of Bremen, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project started in 2017, the launch is scheduled for early 2020.

Project description »


Workshop Digital Methods and Research Data Management in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The programme for our workshop is ready! The Workshop will take place from 7 to 8 October 2019 at the German Historical Institute in Moscow (DHI Moskau) and is organized by the Discuss Data project, the DHI Moskau and the Centre for Digital Humanities at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Please see the programme and the call for papers.

Article authored by the Discuss Data team published in Journal of Eurasian Studies

Transparency and quality assessment of research data in post-Soviet area studies: The potential of an interactive online platform by Andreas Heinrich, Felix Herrmann, Heiko Pleines describes the reasoning behind the Discuss Data project


Discuss Data's interdisciplinary project team is supported by an advisory board constituted of international acknowledged expert from various research fields.

Project team »

Advisory Board »


Forschungsstelle Osteuropa an der Universität Bremen

Dr. Eduard Klein

Klagenfurter Str. 8, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 421 218-69586
E-mail: eklein@uni-bremen.de


Project team

Dr. Eduard Klein (data collection + community engagement)
Felix Herrmann (digital humanities)
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines (coordination)
Daniel Kurzawe (Deputy Head of Research and Development)
Stefan Hynek (software developer)

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Margarita Balmaceda, Seton Hall University / Davis Center for Eurasian Studies, Harvard University / Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst
Prof. Dr. Timm Beichelt / Dr. Daria Isachenko, European University Viadrina – Frankfurt (Oder)
Dr. Tobias Blanke, King’s College London
Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter, University of Bremen
Dr. Jakob Fruchtmann, Jacobs University Bremen
Dr. Mischa Gabowitsch, Einstein Forum Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Lentz, Leibniz Institut für Länderkunde Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Ingo Rohlfing, University of Cologne
Prof. Dr. Susanne Schattenberg, University of Bremen
Prof. Dr. Andrei A. Yakovlev, National Research University – Higher School of Economics Moscow

Project description

Modern information technologies allow the allocation of and unrestricted access to research data as open data. Data repositories provide the basis for debates on research results and constitute an important cornerstone in the creation of scholarly transparency. The potential of such systems extends far beyond the mere download and description of hosted files, yet it remains largely neglected in current academic practice. Contemporary repositories present the registered data rather as virtual flashcards.

With Discuss Data, the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen and the Göttingen State and University Library are currently creating an interactive online platform for the discussion of research data and their quality assessment. The aim is to create a place of academic communication for the community-specific curation, annotation and discussion of research data.

Such communication is of particular importance in view of increasing debate within the academic community regarding the reliability and validity of research data. Thus, our virtual platform combines the upload of data collections not only with documentations of data collection but also with enabling, at the same place, the interactive evaluation of the data through the assessment of their quality, their contextualization and discussion. The international community of experts will be enabled to report faulty data; in the case of missing data, to recommend alternative data sources; and to extensively discuss the interpretation and application of data. Discuss Data presents the opportunity to structure and present feedback on research data and to transform the evaluation of research data from an individualistic to a collective procedure that benefits the whole academic community.

Discuss Data will serve as a layer between distributed repositories and scholars. For data storage and digital long-term preservation, it will be connected to the DARIAH-DE repository and, prospectively, the Humanities Data Centre services. Through cross-linkage with various external data sources, knowledge and debates regarding research data shall be collected interactively and made accessible to both the academic community and the interested public. The VRE will thereby contribute to the creation of a project-independent, transregional and sustainable information infrastructure.

The upload of data collections and the acquisition of metadata will be closely linked to quality assessment and contextualization within the framework of scholarly discussions in a single place: interactive communication processes within the international research community replace the mere consumption of given static information. The community will be involved in the curation of its own domain knowledge in ways already practiced in social networks and e-commerce. The academic peer review of data collections will be closely linked to the storage and presentation of research data in one virtual research environment (VRE). Processes and best practices will be established that ensure the gradual transfer of both the content and editorial responsibility for the VRE to the community.

The area studies on the post-Soviet region serve as a prototypical application. Their methodological pluralism and interdisciplinary orientation allow the involvement of all data forms and formats established in the humanities and social sciences, with a focus on text documents, statistical data, surveys, audio, video, and image materials. The academic community thereby has the opportunity to influence the design and quality of the uploaded data collections as well as to ensure the long-term storage of research data to provide them with academic legitimacy.

Especially for the post-Soviet region, the availability and quality of statistical data is limited, access to documents is often restricted, and conducting interviews requires context-specific knowledge. Additionally, there exist no comprehensive data collections for the region that provide basic information for the social sciences. Researchers often encounter missing or contradictory data for specific countries or years. Existing data collections covering the post-Soviet region are mostly compiled without the help of experts on the region who could determine the validity of the data. Furthermore, existing data collections stand isolated and do not refer to comparable or complementary data sets that would close possible data gaps. To remedy these shortcomings, Discuss Data will crowdsource data and expertise on the post-Soviet region from the academic community.

With the documentation of the project findings and the publication of the modularly developed software components as open source, the project will promote subsequent transfer to other contexts.

© 2017 - Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen