• de
  • en

Research group "Digitality"

Research group "Digitality in Historical Research: Methods and Research Data"

"Digitality of historical research" is a transversal field of work at the IEG. Here, the use of digital tools and methods is trialled at the IEG in explorative and collaborative forms of work and the development of a digital hermeneutics is promoted through the integration of IT methods with basic historical principles. At the same time, the research group also has an impact on the work of the goups of "Society" and "Religion" in order to support source criticism, heuristics and analyses with digital tools and processes. The Europa forum addresses the digital transformation and the associated limitations and delimitations as a fundamental question of historical European research. A variety of formats, such as informal events, open consultation hours and individual counselling sessions, serve the exchange and further training on digital processes and tools within the IEG.

Selected publications

Aschauer, Anna/Cremer, Fabian/Czolkoß-Hettwer, Michael: Publikation von Forschungsdaten in der Geschichtswissenschaft (Open Educational Resource), 2020. URL: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4300275.
Barget, Monika: Visualizations of geographic data in historical research as tools of exploration and education, in: Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Heidelberg 2022, 3–19. URL: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-18158-0_1.
Berger, Joachim, Wübbena, Thorsten (Hg.): Wissen ordnen und entgrenzen – vom analogen zum digitalen Europa?, Göttingen 2023 (VIEG Beiheft 141; Ein Europa der Differenzen 4).  URL: https://doi.org/10.13109/9783666302312.
Geraerts, Jaap: Priests’ Libraries in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic, in: Adams, Robyn/Glomski, Jacqueline (eds.), Seventeenth-Century Libraries: Problems and Perspectives, Leiden 2023, 96–120. URL: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004429819_006.
Paulmann, Johannes/Wood, John Carter/Cremer, Fabian/Wübbena, Thorsten u. a.: NFDI4Memory. Consortium for the Historically Oriented Humanities. Proposal for the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), 12.12.2022. URL: https://zenodo.org/record/7428489.
Petz, Cindarella/Ghawi, Raji/Pfeffer, Jürgen: Tracking the Evolution of Communities in a Social Network of Intellectual Influences, in: Journal of Historical Network Research 7/1 (2022), 114– 154. URL: https://doi.org/10.25517/jhnr.v7i1.146.
Vasques Filho, Demival/O'Neale, D. R.: Transitivity and degree assortativity explained: The bipartite structure of social networks, in: Physical Review E 101/5 (2020), 052305. URL: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.101.052305.
Błoch, Agata/Vasques Filho, Demival/Bojanowski, Michał: Networks from archives: Reconstructing networks of official correspondence in the early modern Portuguese empire, in: Social Networks 69 (2022), 123–135. URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2020.08.008.
The Bomber‘s Baedeker. A Guide to the Economic Importance of German Towns and Cities, TEI/XML-Dataset1 and -Software (Quick TEI)2         
1 Thorsten Wübbena / Martina Gödel, 07.09.2022. URL: https://zenodo.org/record/7056750   
2 Schepp, Moritz / Thorsten Wübbena, 31.10.2022. URL: https://github.com/ieg-dhr/QTEI.
Wübbena, Thorsten: Von Warburg zu Wikidata – Vernetzung und Interoperabilität kunsthistorischer Datenbanksysteme am Beispiel von ConedaKOR, in: Hastik, Canan/Hegel, Philipp (eds.), Bilddaten in den Digitalen Geisteswissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2020, 133–148. URL: https://doi.org/10.13173/9783447114608.

read more

Research Aims

The future of historical research is characterised by digital technologies that expand methodology, processes and practices, and which support and influence the reproduction, representation, analysis and interpretation of historical sources. However, the digital transformation is not only changing research but also its institutions, so that a critical reflection on the institutional, social and economic conditions of current digitalisation is required. The IEG takes the entire spectrum of digital change into consideration and is actively involved in shaping this transformation.

“Digitality of historical research” is a transversal research group at the IEG. Here, the use of digital tools and methods is trialled at the IEG in explorative and collaborative working forums and the development of a digital hermeneutics is promoted through the integration of IT methods with basic historical principles. At the same time, the research group also has an impact on the work of the groups of “Society”, “Religion” and, in due course, “Environment” in order to support source criticism, heuristics and analyses with digital tools and processes. The Europe forum addresses the digital transformation and the limitations and delimitations it entails as a fundamental question of historical research on Europe. Various formats – such as informal events, open sessions and individual consultations – contribute to exchange and training in digital methods and tools within the IEG.

The IEG attaches great importance to quality assurance, documentation and archiving of digital research data and promotes their further use in accordance with FAIR principles. The handling of data is considered an integral part of digital methods in historical research and data spaces from European and colonial contexts are examined from multiple perspectives as part of the IEG’s research projects. The underlying research ethics are based on a historical-critical examination of the genesis and modelling of the data, the software used and the provenance and conditions of data access. With the DH Lab, the IEG is in possession of expertise and resources for the management and curation of research data and thus contributes to the long-term availability, usability and archiving of research data and digital collections at the IEG. Research data management is operated and developed at the Institute on three levels: individual research support, institutional procedures and services at the IEG and participation in subject-specific developments in the historical sciences.

Within the framework of “Open Science”, research products and processes at the IEG are made accessible to other researchers and the interested public, and the IEG is committed to an institutional culture of openness by communicating research results transparently. Moreover, the IEG makes data collections and information systems available to researchers and the public on a long-term basis within the framework of “IEG digital”. This institutional service is continuously curated and developed. The department also offers a variety of educational and transfer formats such as courses and qualification and exchange programmes as well as public events to promote participation in digital, open historical research.

The IEG emphasises the importance of cooperation between various actors working in research, teaching, memory institutions and research infrastructures in order to meet the challenges of digital change in the historically-oriented humanities. Collaboration in cross-institutional networks, working groups and committees forms a basic building block for the diversity of expertise and services in digital historical research at the IEG. The IEG is involved in academic organisations and infrastructural networks, particularly in the coordination of the NFDI4Memory consortium. The 4Memory consortium brings together research organisations, memory institutions and information infrastructures from the historically-oriented humanities. NFDI4Memory is developing a portfolio of key services that systematically link historical scholarship and digital resources.

By virtue of the developments and activities in this research group, the IEG sees itself as a point of contact for digital methodology in the historical sciences. In this way, we also aim to contribute to integrating historical methodology even more strongly into the digitality of interdisciplinary scholarship.

Key Research Topic 2024/2025


The transversal research group brings together all activities relating to the “digitality of historical research” at the IEG. Furthermore, the use of digital tools and methods is being trialled at the IEG in explorative and collaborative forms of work and the development of a digital hermeneutics is being promoted. Furthermore, research and infrastructure networks such as DigiKAR or NFDI4Memory (see p. 12 below), as well as the individual projects of all researchers at the IEG who use and reflect on digital methods, contribute to shaping the research focus. At the same time, activities relating to “digitality” are interlinked with the other research foci.

The development of digital methods and the analysis of historical research data on the basis of formal modelling of historical issues form an Archimedean point within this research focus. Here, the variety of procedures and methods used in the projects at the IEG can be brought together. Building on the results and working methods of the earlier Digital Historical Research | DH Lab, the previous research questions and key topics in the area of historical network analysis and the structuring and visualisation of historical spaces will be explored further and new topics addressed.

Another core task is the development of subject-specific data criticism, augmenting historical source criticism with in-depth knowledge of data structures, algorithms and infrastructures. The IEG regards data management as an integral part of the historical research process, and hence it also forms a central element in the development of methods in the DH Lab. The development and implementation of subject-specific standards and guidelines is realised through work in NFDI4Memory, research networks and institutional committees as well as through various forms of scientific communication.

The department regularly invites IEG researchers to the annual “60 minutes of DH” event to discuss tools, methods and literature from the field of digital humanities and to provide insights into the international project landscape. In addition to individual or project-related consultations, the “Open Garage” offers an accessible forum for new ideas, general questions and specific concerns about digital tools, methods and research data.

In terms of regional, national and international research infrastructure networks, the focus is on the further expansion of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI; Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur), to which the IEG contributes extensively, particularly through its roles in the NFDI4Memory consortium as spokesperson, coordination office and participation of the DH Lab. In addition to participating in NFDI activities, the IEG is involved in the alliance for research infrastructure in the humanities (Geistes- und kulturwissenschaftliche Forschungsinfrastrukturen e.V.) and, together with many partner institutions, forms a hub for national and international developments, including the European research infrastructure project DARIAH-EU ERIC. In the newly founded data competence centre HERMES (Humanities Education in Research, Data, and Methods), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, new formats of learning, research and networking for teaching data skills in the humanities and cultural sciences will be tested beginning in 2024.

The research focus on “Digitality” continues and expands the previous developments of technical and organisational solutions for the sustainable provision of digital research resources. It also facilitates a variety of education and transfer formats such as courses, qualification and exchange programmes as well as public events, which promote participation in digital, open historical research and will contribute to fulfilling the desideratum of subject-specific digital literacy.