Written by Florian Kräutli on . Posted in Use Cases
This article is co-authored by Florian Kräutli of SARI and Wolfgang Schell and Irina Schmidt of metaphacts.
Publishing FAIR data in the humanities sector
Reference data is a crucial element of data curation in the cultural heritage and humanities sector. Using reference data brings multiple benefits, such as consistent cataloguing, easier lookup and interaction with the data, or compatibility with other data collections that use the same reference data. Overall, the use of reference data can support the publication of FAIR data - data that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
In museum collection management, for example, various thesauri can be used as reference data to ensure the accurate and consistent cataloguing of items in a controlled manner and according to specific terminologies. Thesauri exist for various areas of expertise. One example is the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus® (AAT) which describes the different types of items of art, architecture and material culture, such as "cathedral" as a type of religious building. Authority data has also been published to support the unique identification of specific entities such as persons, organizations, or places, for example, "Cologne cathedral" as a specific instance of the type "cathedral". Such authority data sources include The Integrated Authority File (GND) or the Union List of Artist Names® Online (ULAN) and are specifically important for disambiguating over entities with the same name, e.g., Boston, the town in the UK, and Boston, the city in the USA.
Digital humanities projects often combine several research directions and use materials that cover multiple disciplinary areas. This makes the implementation of reference data difficult, as several reference data sources need to be used to cover all aspects and facets of a project. Moreover, technical access to reference data is inconsistent, with systems using different interfaces and APIs, which makes integration challenging.