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Richmond, United Kingdom

Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 451.99K | Year: 2014

There are an estimated 50 million words in the statute book, with 100,000 words added or changed every month. Search engines and services like legislation.gov.uk have transformed access to legislation. No longer the preserve of legal professionals, law is accessed by a much wider group of people, the majority of whom are typically not legally trained or qualified. All users of legislation, from researchers in history, linguistics, lawyers, to a myriad of disciplines, are confronted by the volume of legislation, its piecemeal structure, frequent amendments, and the interaction of the statute book with common law and European law. There is a problem. Researchers typically lack the raw data, the tools, and the methods to undertake research across the whole statute book. Arts and humanities researchers are constrained. Meanwhile, the combination of low cost cloud computing, open source software and new methods of data analysis - the enablers of the big data revolution - are transforming research in other fields. Big data research is perfectly possible with legislation if only the basic ingredients - the data, the tools and some tried and trusted methods - were as readily available as the computing power and the storage. The vision for this project is to address that gap by providing a new Legislation Data Research Infrastructure at research.legislation.gov.uk. Specifically tailored to researchers needs, it will consist of downloadable data, online tools for end-users; and open source tools for researchers to download, adapt and use. There has never been a better time for research into the architecture and content of law. There are three main areas for research: 1.Understanding researchers needs: to ensure the service is based on evidenced need, capabilities and limitations, putting big data technologies in the hands of non-technical researchers for the first time. 2.Deriving new open data from closed data: No one has all the data that arts and humanities researchers might find useful in a Legislation Data Research Infrastructure. For example, the potentially personally identifiable data about users and usage of legislation.gov.uk cannot be made available as open data but is perfect for processing using big data tools; eg to identify clusters in legislation or recommendations datasets of people who read Act A or B also looked at Act Y or Z. The project will look at whether it is possible to create new open data sets from this type of closed data. An N-Grams dataset and appropriate user interface for legislation or related case law, for example, would contain sequences of words/phrases/statistics about their frequency of occurrence per document. N-Grams are useful for research in linguistics or history, and could also be used to provide a predictive text feature in a drafting tool for legislation. 3.Pattern language for legislation: We need new ways to model the architecture of the statute book if we are to study it using big data. The project will seek to learn from other disciplines, applying the concept of a pattern language to legislation. Pattern languages have revolutionised software engineering over the last twenty years and have the potential to do the same for our understanding of legislation. A pattern language is simply a structured method of describing good design practices, providing a common vocabulary between users and specialists, framed around problems or issues, with a solution. Patterns are not created or invented - they are identified as good design based on evidence about how useful and effective they are. Applied to legislation, this might lead to a common vocabulary between the users of legislation and legislative drafters, to identify more effective drafting practices and design solutions that effect good law. This could also enable a radically different approach to structuring teaching materials or guidance for legislators.

Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 24.37K | Year: 2009

This research cluster will bring together a team of key professionals, academic researchers representing AHRC/EPSRC disciplines as well as heritage practitioners to appraise the costs and risks of current environmental guidelines for cultural heritage in response to a changing climate. This theme has a national and international dimension since climate change, energy consumption, visitation and pressures for greater access to collections will continue to make considerable demand on cultural heritage in the 21st century globally. The scale and pace of these changes are posing unique challenges to managing the long-term preservation of material culture and are the focus of discussion amongst professional communities both nationally and internationally.This research cluster will inform this debate.\n\nCurrent environmental parameters and tolerances set out in national and international guidelines and standards as well as Governmental Sustainable Development Targets play a critical role in shaping practices in the cultural heritage sector such as building construction, and environmental management. This includes the control of temperature, moisture, light and pollution - the main factors affecting the conservation of material culture. Environmental guidelines impact significantly on how collections are stored, accessed, loaned and displayed. \n\nEqually, the cultural heritage sector is not immune from the challenges posed by global responsibility: reducing reliance on fossil fuels, changing behaviours in favour of re-use and alternative energy sources, for example. It is within this context the appropriateness of current environmental guidelines designed to meet an agreed standard for managing material culture change, enable visitors to access and experience collections to a seasonal standard of comfort, and provide access to collections both locally and internationally is being questioned as the costs of this are being realised. Unfortunately, there are no easy or headline-grabbing answers to this problem: the risks need to be identified, the costs understood, the options appraised. \n\nEGOR will provide the necessary framework to develop thinking in this area in order to realise an intellectual step change in understanding the risks and uncertainties of current environmental guidelines, standards and targets in a changing climate. Consideration will be largely focused on indoor environments, collections and the people who engage with and work in the cultural heritage arena, and will build on foundations established by other research projects e.g. Noahs Ark (EU), Engineering our Futures (EPSRC), Living with Environmental Change (NERC) largely focused on climate impacts outdoors. This will be achieved through 5 sequential activities: \n1. An inaugural meeting of the steering group which includes professional leaders, and named investigators to shape thinking and initiate cross fertilisation of ideas and perspectives;\n2. 3 working group meetings comprising specialists in art history, engineering, material science and conservation for coherent discussion, and lively debate to understand the implication for current environmental guidelines in a changing climate for people, their values and history, buildings housing collections (often historic structures themselves) and collections. The implications will be considered against a background of global responsibility.\n3. A two-day residential event will conclude this investigative process; the three working groups will present their findings, areas of convergence and divergence will be further debated to determine the risks and uncertainties surrounding environmental guidelines and standards in a changing climate, and the outstanding research needed to fully inform this debate.\n\nA summary of the challenges and user-led research emerging within this theme will be reached at the end of the meeting and presented at the Programme conference in July 2009.

Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 721.07K | Year: 2008

In 1152 the future King Henry II of England married the divorced wife of King Louis VII of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine. This brought the great duchy of Aquitaine into the possession of the Plantagenet kings of England with momentous consequences for the history of Europe and in particular for the relations between England and France. Although studies have been devoted to many aspects of the subsequent period, there are still very significant gaps in our knowledge. To a very large degree this is a result of the inaccessibility of the major source for Plantagenet rule in Aquitaine, namely the Gascon Rolls (C 61) in the U.K. National Archives.\n\nThe rolls are of fundamental importance, shedding as they do considerable light on English government in the last major continental possession of the English Crown, and revealing the relationship between the king, and his English administration, with his officers in the duchy, and with his subjects in his lordship of Aquitaine. But this goes well beyond the administrative, political and economic history of a French province, and provides one of the principal primary sources for any study of Anglo-French relations at a time when tensions were growing between the English and French crowns culminating in the outbreak of the Hundred Years War. They are also a primary source of evidence for relations with other European rulers (the Iberian kingdoms, the Low Countries). Until these records are made accessible, a comprehensive history of the Hundred Years war in Aquitaine is unlikely to be written, in either England or France. The production of the edition will open up a wide range of study, and the research undertaken by members of the research team will provide a foundation for this.\n\nThe chronological scope of the project is shaped by the treaty of Paris made between King Henry III of England and King Louis IX of France in 1259 and the final expulsion of the English from Aquitaine in 1453. The treaty radically undermined the position of the English monarchs as dukes of Aquitaine and provided the arena for the disputes that racked Anglo-French relations for the next two hundred and fifty years, and culminated in the English expulsion.\n\nThe research team comprises the principal investigator, Dr Malcolm Vale (St Johns College, Oxford), the co-investigator, Mr Paul Booth (School of History, University of Liverpool) and two post-doctoral researchers, Mr Guilhem Pépin and another to be appointed by international advertising. The researchers will be employed for three years in making the unpublished Gascon Rolls available in electronic form for both the research project itself, and for the international research community. A successful pilot project, funded by the British Academy, has already established the methodology and chronology. The final version of the edition of the Gascon Rolls will be available in a mixture of text and translation, and calendar (summary translation) online, and funding is being sought from France for a French version. \n

Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Knowledge Transfer Partnership | Award Amount: 79.63K | Year: 2014

To develop specialised software for risk-based assessment of environmental conditions in storage of cultural heritage, aiming to incorporate energy considerations,emerging standards and scientific knowledge

Agency: GTR | Branch: AHRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 550.46K | Year: 2014

The growing availability of large digital historical datasets, coupled with the emergence of new methodologies and computer algorithms has the potential to revolutionise research in the Arts and Humanities. The right Big Data tools and approaches will deliver the potential to conduct research on the scale of entire populations - addressing key research questions and offering new insights. Significant investment has already been sunk into the creation of large-scale digital resources. This investment is delivering historical big data of a variety, complexity and coverage that is beyond the scope of existing analytical tools and techniques. Yet these tools have not yet been the subject of large investment. Researchers in this field now require rapid innovation to extend the Big Data approaches pioneered for scientific and business applications, adapting and refining these to deliver practical analytical tools to support large-scale exploration of big historical datasets. This innovative, multi-disciplinary project will address this challenge, bringing together international research experience in the digital humanities, natural language processing, information science, data mining and linked data, with large, complex and diverse big data spanning over 500 years of British history. The projects technical outputs will be a methodology and supporting toolkit that identify individuals within and across historical datasets, allowing people to be traced through the records and enabling their stories to emerge from the data. The tools will handle the fuzzy nature of historical data, including aliases, incomplete information, spelling variations and the errors that are inevitably encountered in official records. The toolkit will be open and configurable, offering the flexibility to formulate and ask interesting questions of the data, exploring it in ways that were not imagined when the records were created. The open approach will create opportunities for further enhancement or re-use and offers the further potential to deliver the outputs as a service, extensible to new datasets as these become available. This brings the vision of bring your own data closer, to find and link individuals in new combinations of datasets, from the widest range of historical sources. The project will benefit academic and leisure historians alike, across the whole spectrum of digital history: * It will assist historians seeking evidence of life-events through a collective study of individual biographies. * It will help genealogists find and trace the paths of their ancestors across the landscape of the official record. * It will help researchers by signposting routes between historical collections, enabling links between datasets at a deep level and creating opportunities for discovery. * For cultural organizations it will illuminate effective approaches to creation and curation of new digital datasets to optimise their potential for linking and re-use. * It will provide evidence to support policy making, helping balance the demands of Data Protection and information assurance with those of open data and Freedom of Information. * It will provide a methodology to underpin the creation of new tools and resources, supporting the digital economy. The project aims to extend the boundaries of current research in three important directions: to increase the extent and diversity of the data that can be handled; to improve support for inconsistent or fuzzy data; and to enable confidence measures to be tailored to fit specific research aims. These advances will extend the practical application of data linking techniques, enabling them to be applied to the large, diverse datasets that are continually emerging, to help answer historical research questions at a macro and micro scale. Our vision is to create a generic, extensible approach to tracing the lives of real people: through time and across the documentary evidence that survives them.

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