King's Digital Lab

King's Digital Lab (KDL) is the Research Software Engineering hub of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King's College London, UK. Its team of digital researchers and data experts collaborates with researchers in many fields to create digital tools to explore academic research in new ways. KDL provides support, guidance, and technical solutions tailored to specific project goals.

With high expertise in Research Software Engineering (RSE) designed for the higher education and GLAM sectors, KDL team implements the systems, infrastructure, tools, and processes needed to produce high quality digital scholarly outputs. It develops research solutions iteratively, using a range of tools and processes that can handle the most common challenges of digital research in the humanities and social sciences. KDL work ranges from the development of historical databases and digital archives, digital scholarly editions, map-based tools, data and text analysis, visualization, and eBooks.

KDL has 18 permanent and contract staff, ranging from analysts to developers, designers, systems managers, project manager, and director.

KDL and DDH Legacy projects: exposing data for research and teaching

In partnership with the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH), KDL is exploring new ways of exposing project research to a wider audience within and outside academia. To this end, KDL and DDH have started to increase the availability of project data that could be of use to the wide community of academics, students, cultural sector professionals and the general public. We believe this will improve the scholarly value of our collective projects, and strengthen our ongoing efforts to justify investment in their long-term sustainability.

Example of benefits we foresee are: Use of projects data in teaching programmes; Enhance projects data citability; Use by other researchers able to access and build on existing projects data; Enhance research impact (beyond academic use) of projects data (e.g. linking and integration within archival collections).

KDL and DDH believe this work will enhance the value and visibility of digital humanities projects undertaken in the last 30 years, showcasing the value of the underlying data and ensuring they are available and re-used with proper attribution. While we had already made a lot of progress in using standards-based approaches amenable to cross-project interoperability during the lifetime of the projects, this effort constitutes completion of work already begun.

It has long been DDH and KDL aim to make our digital research available according to the principles of open research, while providing safeguards to ensure appropriate referencing and accreditation. For some projects, we have already carried out experiments in this direction in the past, and we have recently been testing environments for 'data publication' which would allow us to do this according to current systems of best practice.

In addition, there are significant potential benefits in terms of impact. This effort does, however, have important resource implications so we started small with the goal to scale up as feasible in alignment with the strategies of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King’s College London, and the College as a whole, regarding archiving and sustainability.

So far five datasets and associated resources have been made available publicly via the KDL CKAN open data repository. The data can also be queried via the API; see for example https://data.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/api/3/action/package_show?id=frh3 for Henry III Fine Rolls project dataset.