HuNI: Building and Linking Research Collections Online

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Alwyn Davidson

    Deakin University

  2. 2. Toby Burrows

    University of Western Australia

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HuNI: Building and Linking Research Collections Online


Deakin University, Australia


University of Western Australia, Australia


Paul Arthur, University of Western Sidney

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
Paul Arthur

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Pre-Conference Workshop and Tutorial (Round 2)

linked data
open knowledge
virtual collection

information retrieval
cultural infrastructure
linking and annotation

This half-day workshop is designed to introduce humanities researchers to the HuNI Virtual Laboratory. The workshop will be a combination of discussion of issues relating to the design of environments for data linkage and aggregation and a practical engagement with the HuNI platform in which attendees will be guided to build collections and link entities.
The Humanities Networked Infrastructure (HuNI; is a national Virtual Laboratory project combining information from 30 of Australia’s most significant cultural datasets across 13 institutions. These datasets comprise more than 2 million authoritative records relating to the people, organisations, objects, and events that make up Australia’s rich cultural heritage. HuNI enables researchers to work with and share this large-scale aggregation of cultural information.
The HuNI Virtual Laboratory is designed to support the nonlinear and recursive research methods practiced in the humanities. HuNI provides discovery tools for casual users from the wider community, but more sophisticated functionality is available to researchers who register for an account in the virtual laboratory. Registered researchers have their own personal workspace within HuNI. The HuNI VL enables researchers to create, save, and publish selections of data; to analyse and manipulate the data; to share findings; and to export data for reuse in external environments.
The HuNI workshop will enable attendees to be able to start using the HuNI Virtual Laboratory as an integral part of their research. Researchers will be given an introduction to the contents and capabilities of HuNI, the importance and management of the contributing datasets, and the main aims of the research tool. The workshop will highlight the benefits to be gained by bringing together multiple cultural datasets to answer questions that transcend multiple disciplines and research interests.
This workshop will also address concepts around data linkage, leading to a discussion of the advantages and pitfalls of differing approaches. HuNI’s innovative approaches to enabling greater collaboration and creating a rich and dynamic data aggregate has led to the development of ‘socially linked data’, where users of HuNI have the ability to be able to assert relationships and descriptions between different entities that all HuNI users then share. This creates a layer of information that is dynamic, open for lively debate, and irreplaceable in terms of its benefits to research. This approach will be discussed and demonstrated throughout the workshop, providing attendees with hands-on experience in research collaborations as well as the linking and building of information.
The workshop is designed to focus on interaction and hands-on experience. After completing the session, attendees will be able to
• Understand the scope and capabilities of the HuNI VL.
• Discover interesting and useful resources in HuNI.
• Set up and manage their personal HuNI account.
• Build and share personal collections of HuNI data.
• Understand the concept of ‘socially linked data’ and work with HuNI entities to create relationships and links.
• Export information from HuNI.

Contact Information

The workshop will be led by Alwyn Davidson and Toby Burrows.

Dr Alwyn Davidson ( is the current project manager of HuNI at Deakin University, Australia. Alwyn’s main research interests include the analysis of cultural data and geospatial analytics and visualisation. Alwyn has a strong knowledge of the HuNI VL, including running workshops, working with contributing datasets, and managing the project.

Dr Toby Burrows ( is currently a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia. Toby’s main research areas include the design of e-research infrastructure for the humanities, and the history of medieval manuscript collections (particularly their curation, description, and digitization). He was the coordinator of community liaison and outreach for the original HuNI project.

Description of Target Audience

The workshop is aimed at those who are interested in cultural data, virtual collections, data linkage and aggregation, and open knowledge. Attendees—whether they have limited exposure to working with cultural datasets or are highly experienced researchers in the area—will benefit from learning about HuNI and the benefits in combining multiple datasets for exploration and discovery. No specialized computing knowledge is required. Based on previous experience, we believe the workshop would work well with 20 to 30 participants.
Technical Support
Very little technical support is needed. Participants will be required to bring their own laptops. We would also require from the venue a data projector, Internet access for participants, and power points for charging laptops.

Intended Length and Format

The workshop has been designed as a half-day exercise which, with the exception of the introduction, will be hands-on activity based for all participants. The workshop outline is as follows:

Introduction (40 minutes)
Overview of the HuNI VL, its architecture, contributing datasets, and main aims.

Searching and browsing the HuNI VL (20 minutes)
Navigating the contents of HuNI and interpreting and using search results.

Registration (10 minutes)
Creating and managing your user account.

Creating collections (40 minutes)
Creating, managing, and sharing your own collections within the VL.

Socially linked data (40 minutes)
Building relationships between entities in the HuNI data aggregate.

Exporting and Re-use (20 minutes)
Exporting and re-use of data from the HuNI VL.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2015
"Global Digital Humanities"

Hosted at Western Sydney University

Sydney, Australia

June 29, 2015 - July 3, 2015

280 works by 609 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (10)

Organizers: ADHO