The SURFShare project Hublab-2 Toward successful implementation of the Liferay platform in historical research continues and deepens the research into scholarly collaboration in the Humanities, in particular with respect to the use of virtual research environments by social and economic historians.

In a previous project, collaborative platforms were built using the Open Source program Liferay. In this project, we will analyze in depth the user experience with this platform, in the context of the overall communication and research practices of the working teams involved. Furthermore, the platform will be augmented in an iterative cycle of technical improvements and evaluations, in which the VKS will work closely with researchers and ICT staff of the International Institute of Social History.


SURF Foundation, International Institute of Social History and Virtual Knowledge Studio-KNAW


International Institute of Social History and VKS: Jan Kok

Virtual Knowledge Studio: Stefan Dormans

International Institute of Social History: Frans de Liagre Böhl, Karin Hofmeester, Ulbe Bosma, Sjaak van der Velden, Kees Mandemakers, ICT-staff

Utrecht University: Tine de Moor, Richard Zijdeman, Marco H.D. van Leeuwen.


12 months:January 2009 until January 2010


The 12-months project has started on January 1, 2009. On the one hand, the project aims to analyze (technical aspects of) collaborative practices of humanities researchers and on the other hand to improve the platform created with the Liferay package.

About eight international research teams of historians will be studied in their communication activities, in order to determine the (potential) role for virtual research environments such as Liferay. Stefan Dormans of VKS will interview researchers, attend their meetings etcetera. Moreover, he will relate his findings to the literature on collaborative practices, which has until recently been dominated by the Life sciences. His role is not that of distant observer. On the contrary, his findings will be communicated to the technical staff, which will lead to further improvements.

Already, a number of technical improvements are envisaged. The platforms will be fitted out with a proper mail functionality, the option of online adding to a central database will be explored, and the search engine of IISH collections will be integrated in the platform. Perhaps even more important is the continuous improvement of the look and feel of the program, that needs to function as intuitively as possible.

The results will be compared and shared with the VKS collaboratory project of Gert Goris, as well as with the other SURF Share tender projects, and will be disseminated through a project website and scholarly articles in both historical and STS journals.