Since 2021 the Data and Service Center for the Humanities DaSCH is a national data infrastructure which is primarily funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Its main task is to operate a platform for humanities research data that ensures long-term access to this data. Furthermore, the linking of data with other databases is promoted (linked open data), in order to create added value for further research and the interested public.
DaSCH has two offices, one in Allschwil and one in Lausanne. The national coordination office is located in Allschwil. The University of Basel operates the Allschwil DaSCH office, the University of Lausanne the DaSCH office with its own infrastructure in Lausanne.
History of DaSCH
The development of the Data and Service Center for the Humanities DaSCH was initiated by the “Digital Humanities Lab” (DHLab) and the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW) as part of a pilot project anchored in the ERI (Education, Research and Innovation) Dispatch 2013–2016 by mid-2015. A consortium from the universities of Basel, Bern and Lausanne, led by the Digital Humanities Lab at the University of Basel had won the public tender of the SAGW. Within the pilot phase a feasibility study of the chosen technical solution was successfully conducted on various data sets.
In 2017 DaSCH was institutionalised as a national facility with a mandate to the SAGW set out in the ERI Dispatch 2017-2020. From 2017 to 2020 DaSCH was operated by the SAGW.
Since 2021 DaSCH is a national data infrastructure primarily funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
DaSCH has the legal form of an association which allows to accommodate all stakeholders as members. This guarantees lean formal requirements for administration that will lead to an effective and efficient governance of the research infrastructure. Membership is open to
- all Swiss Institutions of Higher Education as defined by the HFKG
- the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences
- other Swiss research Infrastructures
- national institutions with a high relevance for humanities research
Institutions can apply for membership by sending their application to the board of the association. All members are represented in the assembly of delegates of the association.
The mission statement of DaSCH you can find here.
The association has several distinct bodies that allow high agility in the operational management as well as a broad involvement of members and consultation bodies. This guarantees that strategic decisions will be taken in accordance with the demands of the user community. The distinct bodies of the association are the following:
- Assembly of Delegates
- Board of the Association
- Scientific Advisory Board
- User Advisory Board
- Executive Office
Assembly of Delegates
Each member designates a delegate to the Assembly of Delegates. The Assembly of Delegates is the highest deciding body of the association. Among others it elects the governing body, decides on the statutes and approves the annual accounts and reports.
Board of the Association
The Board of the Association is elected by the Assembly of Delegates. In the first instance the board is formed by the founding members of DaSCH. The Board of the Association signed the contract with the SNSF and mandated the implementation of tasks to the Executive Office. The Board decides on the strategic planning and the budget that the Executive Office of DaSCH proposes. At the moment the Board of the Association is composed as follows:
- One representative appointed by the University of Basel (hosting university)
- One representative appointed by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences
- One representative appointed by FORS
- Three representatives from Swiss Institutions of Higher Education
More members, like representatives from other Swiss Institutions of Higher Education can be elected once they have become official members of the association. The Board of the Association meets regularly with the Executive Office.
Current members of the Board of the Association are:
- Prof. Dr. Torsten Schwede, University of Basel
- Prof. Dr. Béla Kapossy, University of Lausanne
- Prof. Dr. Christian Schwarzenegger, University of Zurich
- Prof. Dr. Michael Stolz, University of Bern
- Dr. Beat Immenhauser, SAGW
- Prof. Dr. Georg Lutz, FORS
Scientific Advisory Board
The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) supports the Board of the Association on scientific matters connected with the development of the infrastructure. The SAB is composed of leading international experts. The experts represent different fields from the Humanities and advise the Board of the Association in questions of strategic importance. The representation of different scientific communities is particularly important to ensure that the needs of the user communities can be addressed on a strategic level, especially to guarantee that the potential for the development of technologies for re-usability will be fully met.
The 5-7 members of the SAB are elected by the Board of the Association. The development of DaSCH over time will also entail a development concerning the research disciplines addressed, which will also be reflected in the composition of the SAB.
The SAB meets at least once a year. The Executive Office will prepare a self-evaluation report that will be discussed at an on-site visit. The SAB will then prepare a written report with its recommendations to the attention of the Board of the Association.
User Advisory Board
Complementary and in addition to the Scientific Advisory Board, the User Advisory Board is the instrument for the Board of the Association to receive feedback from DaSCH users with respect to the services offered. The Board of the Association will issue regulations governing the details of the election of the members of the User Advisory Board in the near future (bylaws Art. 25).
The Executive Office ensures the functioning of all operations of DaSCH. The office will be headed by an Executive Team. The team will decide on all operative business, such as appointment of employees, finances within the approved budget, technology prospection and implementation, relations to users and other infrastructures or education of users. The DaSCH Executive Team is a closely cooperating management team that assumes distinct roles in operational management. The management team is composed as follows:
- Director: Primary representative to the bodies, responsible for strategy, services and operations. Founding Director is Prof. Dr. Lukas Rosenthaler.
- Deputy Director Administration: Responsible for finances and personnel, maintains the network for training and research partner organisations. Founding Deputy Director Administrative is PD Dr. Peter Fornaro.
- Deputy Director Technology: Responsible for technological development and data security. Founding Deputy Director Technology is Dr. Ivan Subotic.
DaSCH is a national digital infrastructure (DIS) funded primarily by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Moreover, the University of Basel as a hosting university provides substantial in-kind contributions such as the office infrastructure within the Innovation Center in Allschwil/BL, hosting of parts of the IT-infrastructure by the IT-Services, as well as of HR and accounting services by the University administration. The location of the office at the University of Basel allows it to support the scholars in German-speaking Switzerland.
As DaSCH's second location, the University of Lausanne offers ideal conditions for providing optimal services for French-speaking users. The University of Lausanne provides office infrastructure on their premises as well as IT-storage and accounting services.
Based on this stable foundation, DaSCH is able to supply the technology and services needed by the scientific community of the Humanities. Further financial resources, i.e. by third-party research funding or user contributions, will allow the extension of services for the community or to specific users. Regular exchanges with the SNSF allow optimal financial planning and communication between the main sponsor, all stakeholders and the DaSCH.