Advances in digital technologies offer huge opportunities for the humanities and social sciences. Today, they not only enable us to capture a mass of information linked with the development of the Internet and social media, but they also give us the chance to recast the traditional questions and instruments of our disciplines. These new technologies also open up the possibility for the practice of science to be transformed by the principles of openness and by easier access to data. This has led both to an accentuation of the issue of replicability in the social sciences and to an exponential increase in the quantity and cumulative character of available data.

Developing systems able to take advantage of these new possibilities requires considerable investment. Thanks to successive calls from the scientific community, in particular with the Silberman Report1 in 1999 and the Cribier Report2 in 2003, a number of initiatives contributed to the construction of these social science technology platforms in France.

Selected in January 2011 in the National Research Agency’s call for Excellence Facilities projects, DIME-SHS reflects this dynamic, a single facility that brings together technologies for capturing online data, for collecting data from representative samples online, and for making data – particularly qualitative data – available to the whole scientific community. In this capacity, DIME-SHS joins the landscape of infrastructures aligned with the practices of the academic community by providing services dedicated to the production, dissemination and reuse of social science data.

Missions and principles

DIME-SHS is an experimental facility for innovative research in the humanities and social sciences. Its primary role is to design and develop a battery of tools, built on new technologies, for the production, dissemination and reuse of data. Its activity encompasses the principal types of social science data – qualitative, textual and quantitative – and the main data sources – interviews and observation notes, opinion surveys or accumulated web data.

DIME-SHS adheres closely in its operational principles to the values of open science and FAIR standards. DIME-SHS is committed to the improvement of standards, in particular methodological standards, with a focus on scientific excellence. DIME-SHS also embodies methodological pluralism, combining approaches sometimes drawn from widely separated traditions.

The main missions of DIME-SHS are thus to… :

  1. Design experimental tools for the production of research data;
  2. Structure platforms to facilitate data access and exploration;
  3. Contribute to thinking about multi-corpus research methods and promote new practices supported by digital tools;
  4. Foster open data and secondary data use in order to make social science research methods more transparent.