January 15, 2014

IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard gbullard@imls.gov

The Institute of Museum and Library Services and nine international research funders from four countries today announced the winners of the third Digging into Data Challenge. The international competition is designed to develop new insights, tools, and skills in innovative humanities and social science research using large-scale data analysis.

Fourteen international teams representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States will receive grants totaling approximately $5.1 million to investigate how computational techniques can be applied to “big data.” Their work will address the evolving nature of humanities and social sciences research, which often relies on massive multisource datasets. Each team represents collaborations among scholars, scientists, and information professionals from leading universities and libraries in Europe and North America.

The first round of the Digging into Data Challenge was held in 2009 and the second in 2011. Previous Digging into Data research projects received international attention. The 2013 winners were selected from among 69 applications and address a wide variety of topics. IMLS’s contribution of $424,591 supports American researchers from three of the fourteen teams: the Missouri Botanical Garden, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of South Carolina, whose projects are described below:

Mining Biodiversity  (Missouri Botanical Garden; University of Manchester, U.K.; Dalhousie University, Canada) aims to transform the Biodiversity Heritage Library into a next-generation social digital library resource to facilitate the study and discussion (via social media) of legacy science documents on biodiversity by a worldwide community and to raise awareness of the changes in biodiversity over time in the general public. The project will integrate novel text mining methods, visualization, crowdsourcing, and social media into the BHL.

Project Arclight: Analytics for the Study of 20th Century Media (University of Wisconsin-Madison; Concordia University, Canada) will apply the same computational analytics used by data mining companies to identify people who are “trending” to study film and media history. A web tool will be built with open source technologies that will analyze roughly two million pages of public domain publications from the Media History Digital Library and the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection.

Trees and Tweets: Mining Billions to Understand Human Migration and Regional Linguistic Variation (University of South Carolina; Aston University, U.K.) will analyze contemporary U.S. and U.K. Twitter data for regional variation in linguistic forms and link the patterns of variation with migration in both countries. The goal is to understand how linguistic variation is shaped by migration in both the past and present.

Descriptions of all fourteen funded projects and additional information about the competition can be found at www.diggingintodata.org.

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Note to editors: in addition to the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, the sponsoring funding bodies include 

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom),
  • Economic & Social Research Council (United Kingdom),
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation (Canada),
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (United States),
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada),
  • National Science Foundation (United States),
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research in collaboration with The Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) (Netherlands), and
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada).

The U.K. charity Jisc will be providing professional program management in the progression of the United Kingdom projects.

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About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.