In the discussion about tools for IT supported research, the concept of a Virtual Research Environment has recently found considerable attention. It usually describes the concept, that all three major stages of research – the collection of relevant information, its analysis and its publication – should be supported by appropriate computer tools in an integrated way, at the same time be open for collaboration across institutions however.
Many projects of this stripe are intimately bound into national infrastructural programs and therefore extremely general – and therefore so far from actual research, that in the community of computer using Humanists a discussion has recently sprung up, whether this big-project-style of infrastructure-oriented projects is not actually destroying the interest in the Humanities within Humanities Computing.
Using as example a German project for the creation of such a Virtual Research Environment for Charters, the Virtuelle Deutsche Urkundennetzwerk, we will try to demonstrate, in which way such an environment can connect closely to concrete research requirements, balancing between the need to create an infrastructure which is general, but at the same time allowing for the simple creation of and interfacing with individual tools, which are very closely modeled on actual research needs.
UNIVERSITÄT ZU KÖLN D-50923 Köln,
Prof. Dr. Manfred Thaller