The Mapping the Arts and Humanities project will capture the range of institutes, centres and networks that support arts and humanities research across the country, and produce an interactive tool that will allow researchers to connect with potential collaborators outside of their existing networks.
Policymakers will also be able to locate where policy-relevant expertise is concentrated, and external organisations will be able to identify academic partners.
Professor Jo Fox, Dean of the School of Advanced Study and Chair of the Mapping the Arts and Humanities project board, explains:
"Despite having access to more information about research than ever before, research networks, centres, hubs or clusters of activity in the arts and humanities can be hard to find. Equally, researchers can often be unaware of facilities that are available to them, particularly when they are outside their own discipline.
“Our new map will provide a consolidated source of information that will help us all to find and connect with research activity more easily, and boost visibility for research infrastructure across the country."
Research infrastructure come in all shapes and sizes. There are well-established research centres based in university departments, informal groups and networks that cross disciplinary and institutional boundaries, as well as learned and professional societies that provide support to the research community.
However, much of this vital infrastructure is unconnected and difficult to discover. Research groups can be hidden among the sub-pages of university websites, and many smaller hubs and networks do not have a social media presence. This can make it difficult to identify where research is taking place and who to contact about it.
The mapping process seeks to solve this visibility issue, and also provide insights into the UK’s arts and humanities research landscape. This will help funders and research councils – such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Research England, who commissioned the project – to build on existing strengths, and identify where further support might be needed.
Dr Jaideep Gupte, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), says:
"AHRC is thrilled to be supporting this project which will significantly bolster our understanding of arts and humanities research strengths and capability across the UK. A wide and diverse range of facilities, networks and centres support our world-class researchers.
"This project will provide a comprehensive picture, for the first time, of what and where these are, helping us to better support excellence, make new connections, and maximise the impact, reach and recognition of the arts and humanities."
The project team have already collected hundreds of pieces of research infrastructure across the country but have only just scratched the surface.
The map is set to launch in November 2023. In the meantime, the project team will share new findings and insights from the mapping process on the project blog and on social media. In the first blog of the series, Professor Fox reflects on the key questions underpinning the project. Read it here.