DHA Praxis aims at promoting a culture of interdisciplinary scholarship in the Digital Humanities & Arts at the University of Nottingham. The project was granted a Discipline Bridging Award (DBA) in April 2014 by the University of Nottingham. The DBA aims to expand the culture of interdisciplinary research and collaboration at the University of Nottingham, by providing researchers from all disciplines with the opportunity to create a space to enable dialogue between different fields of research and to identify and tackle innovative research questions at the interface between two or more disciplines.
The current knowledge economy relies on creativity and collaboration across different domains, requiring “fused skills” derived from the toolboxes of different disciplines. Meanwhile, collaboration across different disciplines frequently encounters inhibitors – it rarely fulfils its promise in practice because disciplinary protocols are seldom properly understood outside of the communities within which they usually take place.
This project addresses the disjoint between the need for interdisciplinary research and the lack of understanding with regard to how to foster and promote truly interdisciplinary research groups. It builds on the outcomes of a series of short-term interdisciplinary activities within the University of Nottingham and aims to consolidate them around an exploration of the conceptual challenges of interdisciplinarity.
The project explores collaboration by zeroing in on a domain that is by its very nature interdisciplinary: the Digital Humanities. This emerging field is fundamentally concerned with the fusing of digital technologies and Humanities enquiry – and in practice demonstrates that a balanced and integrated convergence of the diverse perspectives involved is often hard to achieve.
The objective is to produce a best practice guide for overcoming interdisciplinary challenges and a set of templates for producing innovative and effective results that can be applied within academia and beyond – with regard to the chosen case study specifically within the creative economy.
The project examines collaboration in this domain by exploring three trajectories identified as key inhibitors to interdisciplinarity in the Interdisciplinary research – Findings from the ESRC/EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme: (1) lack of a common language and a shared vision, (2) a research discipline promoted over others, (3) discontinuous and/or limited communication and exchanges among the diverse researchers.
Method and Work-Packages
The project responds to the institutional need to provide off-the-shelf templates for interdisciplinary activity. In this way, groups of researchers coming together around a question can quickly commence their work, tailoring the template to their needs, but without having to reinvent the wheel.
The method to achieve this will be inspired by the model of the ‘Community of Practice’, which has three characteristics: a shared ‘domain’ of interest; a regularly interacting ‘community’ engaged in joint activities/discussions; a ‘practice’ in the sense of a shared set of resources.
Between 10 and 15 researchers will be involved – through regular and framed face-to-face and online interactions – in a one-year process of interdisciplinary scaffolding and development of collaborative project ideas.
The three Work-Packages are:
WP1 – Practice-based interdisciplinary understanding. Scholars will meet to present their working practices, and share their research process, especially in their work environment.
WP2 – Case-study-based lecture series. A series of lectures will be organised to present digital humanities projects. These will be open events for the University of Nottingham.
WP3 – Project-based collaboration. This will focus on the development of pilot ideas addressing the research questions that emerged during the project first phase. Those ideas will focus on the adoption of existing technologies