This eminently multidisciplinary thesis aims to lay the foundations of a rich and collaborative digital library by outlining the needs of the researchers and of the public. On the one hand it focuses on digital libraries from the perspective of their users, an area of research for which the literature is rare and very generic; on the other hand it focuses on one of the thorniest problems of digital humanities: the identification of the audience(s) and needs. In most cases, in fact, digital libraries are constructed from the demands of their creators, and according to the alleged needs of users, but these users are just the projection of the needs and characteristics of the creators themselves. This strategy has shown its limits but an approach based on the needs of end users remains marginal.
This PhD project specifically addresses these two requirements. Its disciplinary framework is located between digital humanities, social sciences and computer science: the successful candidate will adopt methods and approaches of these three disciplines. One of the questions s/he will have to consider is the identification of factors that favour public engagement: is it the content (presence / absence of certain types of documents), the way it is presented (interface, tools) or rather the type of community aggregating around the resource? The thesis should include:
Analysis of an intellectual field and its underlying structures
Development of prototypes to feed investigations and to consolidate the results
Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, observation and statistical analysis of user activities
The thesis will have an exploratory and a theoretical nature, but it will also include the development of prototypes and interactive scenarios for evaluating assumptions. The thesis therefore develops in three phases:
Analysis of the internal needs: dialogue with partners of Fonte Gaia (http://fontegaia.hypotheses.org/projet-fonte-gaia-2) to identify the features required for the administration, annotation and data management of the public interface.
Analysis of the public needs: creation of questionnaires, users types analysis (specialist or general public) and creation of representative groups and control groups.
Development of models and prototypes that meet the needs identified in the first two phases; the prototypes will be tested with the Fonte Gaia partners, on the representative groups created in phase 2, and new user groups specifically identified.
The thesis will finally produce a framework of knowledge about public engagement in the field of digital heritage and in particular an assessment of the contributing factors to the creation of large mixed-specialist public communities to determine the societal impact of digital resources.
Grenoble Alpes University
Given the multidisciplinary nature of the subject, the candidate must have degrees in at least two of the following three areas: Web-development, NLP, digital humanities.
In particular, the applicant must show that s/he has the following knowledge, or, that s/he has the will and the ability to acquire it:
Strong interest in the issues and challenges of Digital Humanities
Knowledge of the main digital libraries in France and abroad
Knowledge of principles of crowdsourcing and public engagement
Knowledge of the main issues of the management of (digital) cultural heritage
Knowledge of the main standards of data and metadata, including, but not limited to, EAD, Dublin Core, TEI
Knowledge of Web 2.0 related technologies (interactivity, crowdsourcing, social networks) and the production, access and manipulation of enriched text data
Knowledge of the field of NLP (methods and tools)
The PhD student will have to register with the graduate school in September 2015, for a employment contract beginning on October 1, 2015.
Working languages: French and/or English essential; Italian desirable
Level of experience (years):
Mid Career (2+ years of experience)