There is an evident need for developing the local research infrastructure in the social sciences and humanities at the University of Helsinki. The needs become visible in the report published by the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities.
There is an evident need for developing the local research infrastructure in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) at the University of Helsinki. Currently, for example, the purchase, upkeep, storage and use of physical research equipment remain the responsibility of individual research projects. The lack of coordination results in overlapping purchases, missing equipment, and poor condition of devices.
These and other deficiencies become visible in the report published by the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) – more intimately, “Hessu”. In autumn 2019, HSSH surveyed the need, usage and development of research infrastructures from the perspective of researchers.
Digital tools in research are not very extensively used
The proliferation of digital resources and tools, combined with the movement towards open science, is profoundly changing the environment in which the SSH operate. Research is increasingly based on multiple empirical source materials and new computational and mixed methods, and data are collected and used in heterogeneous research constellations. However, the results of the survey show that these developments have not permeated the practices of SSH fields as much as they could.
There are increasing needs for storing and sharing research data with personal identifiers and for digitally accessing data located elsewhere. Along with the proliferation of digital and digitized data, there is also an increasing need for computers with sufficient computational capacity, and for scientific software designed for automatized data processing.
The IT solution consultation as well as the Helpdesk of the UH Centre for Information Technology help researchers with their IT problems, but they cannot help finding discipline-specific solutions or services. Moreover, it is difficult for researchers to know who to turn to for help in different matters, especially when they cannot properly define their problems in IT terms.
Researchers need more legal services and research ethics counselling
Researchers in SSH fields need more extensive legal services and research ethics counselling, which are currently insufficient. Although legal services are available, they are concerned with reacting to individual cases, and furthermore, the services are constantly jammed. Research ethics counselling, in turn, is limited to the statements given by the ethical review board.
According to the survey responses, researchers hope to get stronger guidance from the university, such as ready-made models for the resolution of juridical and ethical issues in different kinds of situations, as well as training for researchers.
HSSH builds new research environment and research culture for SSH fields
The report gives an overview of the current situation and development needs of research infrastructures in the SSH fields at the University of Helsinki. It shows that HSSH, established in the beginning of this year, has an important function and a lot of work ahead.
The main functions of HSSH are to strengthen research collaboration in the SSH and to coordinate the use and development of research infrastructures. One goal is to establish a portal or “one-shot-shop service” through which researchers can find and access research infrastructure services.
HSSH has its own publication series
The report on the survey results launches a new publication series, HSSH Reports and Working Papers. The publication series is aimed at research reports, working papers and other scientific writings intended for interdisciplinary audience across humanities, social sciences, educational sciences, law and/or theology.
The publication language can be Finnish, Swedish or English. At first, the editorial board of the publication series is the HSSH working committee, which can be contacted through HSSH research coordinators.
HSSH plans to start publishing also high-quality scientific publications in its interdisciplinary remit.
The report is available on the HSSH website.