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Digital Humanities: Virtual research infrastructure

An introduction to digital humanities

What are virtual research infrastructure and virtual laboratories?

Virtual research infrastructures help researchers to work together online. They will differ depending on the software or platform on which they are built, such as a CMS (content management system), LMS (learning management systems) or VRE (virtual research environment) framework.

Virtual laboratories are interactive spaces that enable researchers to collaborate and conduct experiments together. They are digital workspaces that are a virtual equivalent to physical workspace. They occur online in a shared location. They provide the platforms that manage users, applications, access and devices, enabling members to access the systems and tools they need from any device or location.

Purposes of virtual research infrastructure and laboratories

  • Ability to work anywhere and anytime
  • Achieve greater reach in research scope and collaborative opportunities

Tools and techniques used in relation to virtual research infrastructures


  • Docker
  • VirtualBox
    • VirtualBox is a cross-platform virtualisation application, allowing you to run multiple operating systems inside multiple virtual machines.
    • Used to run digital curation workflow environment BitCurator.
  • eNotebooks
    • eNotebooks are a collaborative working tool for curating, storing and sharing working documents, procedures, observations, conclusions, notes, images, and data files

Examples of virtual research infrastructure

  • HuNI
    • HuNI combines data from many Australian cultural websites into the biggest humanities and creative arts database ever assembled in Australia and enables researchers to assert relationships between records in the form of ‘socially linked’ data which are visualised as a dynamic network graph.
  • Alveo
    • Alveo provides online infrastructure for accessing human communication datasets (speech, texts, music, video, etc.) and for using specialised tools for searching, analysing and annotating that data.
  • PARTHENOS Virtual Research Environment
    • A web-based collaborative working environment providing its users with a rich array of ready-to-use humanities assets (datasets, tools, and services) suitable for supporting all the phases of a research lifecycle.

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