The British Museum
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
ResearchSpace
ResearchSpace is a British Museum project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that uses Semantic Web technology to support cultural heritage research.
It provides an integrated environment for contextual data and tools designed to reflect research methods, including Semantic Search, Personal Clipboards, Argumentation, Semantic Narratives and Annotation, Image manipulation and annotation tools using IIIF, Security and Workflow, and a Semantic Web Database Builder.  
The system is founded on the principles of knowledge representation and the need to elevate the status of data by including meaning and context at source, rather than relying on the interpretation of "raw" data through programming code. It exposes data "as is", identifying strengths and weaknesses and key areas of enrichment and extension providing transparency for scholarly activity.
The British Museum

The ResearchSpace Approach

By turning information systems on their head and giving greater attention to the data itself, the following benefits result:

  • Search systems become more relevant to research methods, because instead of relying on keywords, researchers can apply the right context to their exploration of data and understand the results that they get.
  • Data becomes more interesting to general audiences by using relationships rather than simple adjective and noun descriptions.
  • Data is more transparent. Knowledge can be built upon rather than fragmented because the data conforms to essential scholarly requirements. This means that better collaboration can be supported. Humanists become an essential part of building open systems – they can directly transfer their knowledge to the Web without being programmers. A better balance of inter-disciplinary work can take place.
  • Information with meaning and context can be more reliably integrated into larger knowledge systems, supporting a fusion of qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Because semantic data is independent of software it is inherently a preservation format.

Improving Data

By presenting data in this way nothing is covered up. This means that both the strengths as well as the weaknesses of source data are exposed. This is a feature of ResearchSpace and different datasets will exhibit different strengths and weaknesses. Its method of representation means that it can accommodate data that may have quality or data management issues and therefore help identify potential improvements. It is hoped that by being transparent it can generate a conversation about how cultural heritage can be better curated for the open environment of the Web, and for different audiences.

The Purpose of this Site

ResearchSpace is a research system and will, on completion, be available for download. This site will be used to show working versions of ResearchSpace and showcase new functionality as it comes online from now until July 2017. ResearchSpace is an interactive system and therefore as an anonymous user only the “read-only” elements will be available. In 2017, ResearchSpace will provide user logins to those interested in using ResearchSpace for their projects, so that they may get a fuller picture of its research capabilities.

Go to ResearchSpace