Members of the ETCL have been collaborating with the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, CANARIE, Compute Canada, and University of Victoria Systems on a large-scale initiative called the Canadian Humanities and Social Sciences Commons since February 2018. But what is the Canadian HSS Commons, you ask?

The Canadian HSS Commons is a prototype for a national-scale, online research commons. This initiative builds on conversations and consultations over the last several years with INKE Partnership members—in particular the Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing, Canadian Social Knowledge Institute, Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur les humanités numériques, Compute Canada, the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Iter, and Voyant Tools—and has roots in co-developed research prototypes existing on North American research infrastructure (e.g. the Modern Language Association’s Humanities Commons, also a partner in this work).

The technology behind the Canadian HSS Commons is a platform called HUBzero. HUBzero is an open source content management system specifically designed by researchers at Purdue University for academic research development. This software platform is available for building powerful websites that host analytical tools, publish data, and share resources, in order for researchers to collaborate and build communities in a single web-based ecosystem.

Working with HUBzero as a platform has facilitated our national scale endeavour. By using existing software we have been able to benefit from a system that has already been tested by researchers at other universities. This has led to a content management system that—although dynamic—is relatively straightforward to use. HUBzero does offer templates for sites that are built on the software, but there is significant ability to control the content and look-and-feel of the site. This strikes a perfect balance between not reinventing the wheel and a customized experience. If we had decided to build the Canadian HSS Commons from the ground up we would have duplicated the efforts of the HUBzero developers, who have already put considerable time into creating a useful and usable research commons management platform. By collaborating with our partners in using the HUBzero software we are able to reach our goals of a shared research commons for Canadian HSS researchers much more easily.

The Canadian HSS Commons seeks to foster an environment for Canadian HSS researchers to share, access, re-purpose, and develop scholarly projects, publications, educational resources, data, and tools. This commons will include:

  • a subject repository for open access publications that assigns digital object identifiers (DOIs) upon upload and follows FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interactive, Reusable) guidelines for data management
  • a project development environment that can integrate with Google Drive, Github, or Dropbox
  • individual user profiles with federated login/identity authorization, including with ORCID
  • blogging capabilities
  • mechanisms to support subject interest groups and member interactions (e.g., profile building, messaging)

The Canadian HSS Commons will offer an alternative to problematic commercial repositories: it is a not-for-profit, open access, and Canada-specific version of an HSS scholarly communication and interaction platform, built on open source software developed by the academic community.

We expect to release the Canadian HSS Commons in beta form before the end of 2019. Stay tuned!