Centre for Digital Humanities


Hugo Quené introduces himself as track leader FAIR data & software

The UU Open Science Programme introduces new members of the Open Science community. This time, Hugo Quené, professor in quantitative methods of empirical research in the humanities, director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at UU and the new leader of FAIR data & software within the Open Science programme. 

Who is Hugo Quené?

Originally, I am a speech researcher (phonetician): I want to understand how people produce speech and how we understand or misunderstand speech, why and how accents change, and how we slip and then improve ourselves. Since 2016 I have been Professor of Quantitative Methods in the Humanities, and I am also Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at UU. I live in Utrecht, am married, and proud father of three grown-up children who are in the final stages of their studies.

How did you get involved in Open Science?

In the years 2010-2016, Rosemary Orr and I conducted a large research project on longitudinal change in pronunciation of students in University College Utrecht. We collected over 300 hours of speech in more than 1000 interviews. Many of those interviews we made FAIR available to other researchers, in a CLARIN repository. Rosemary and I always felt that “data are for sharing” and we put that into practice from the beginning of our research project. Especially since it takes a lot of effort to collect longitudinal data.

Later, I contributed to a memorandum that was a prelude to the current Open Science programme. And for the past few years, I have been a member of the Humanities FOST, as a fellow for FAIR Data & Software.

What specifically do you want to draw attention to in the context of Open Science?

First of all: FAIR opening of your data and software takes time and effort, I know from my own experience. Therefore, researchers and teachers must be properly and adequately supported in this, and they must also receive appropriate recognition and appreciation for this.

Secondly, the concepts of “open science” and “data” are less neutral than some people think. For example, many of my colleagues from text-oriented disciplines refer to themselves as “scholar” rather than “scientist”, and they therefore feel little involvement with “open science” and “FAIR data and software”. In short, we need to pay more attention to the enormous diversity between disciplines, in the sources and data they use, and in how these are analysed.

What are the main challenges in the field of Open Science?

The first challenge is to introduce Open Science not only within Utrecht. Open Science actually requires a systemic change of the entire international academic world. This is a tough challenge, but there are great benefits in return, especially for less privileged researchers outside the Netherlands.

The second challenge is the very high work pressure in the Dutch academic world. That does not make it obvious for researchers to do something extra that does not immediately benefit them.

What are you proud of in relation to Open Science?

I am proud of the steps the UU has already taken, in the entire Open Science programme. Many researchers and lecturers are already making many of their materials and analyses available to others — that deserves praise and appreciation! I myself am proud of a recent article in which we show that those UCU students I mentioned did NOT change their pronunciation of “eh…”. A nice compact open-access article, with new statistical analyses, and with FAIR data and software.

This article was originally published here at uu.nl.