The aim of the DARIAH Virtual Research Environment Service Infrastructure (VRE-SI) is to develop and offer a sustainable portfolio of services enabling digital scholarship in the arts and humanities in Flanders, Belgium and beyond.
Funded by Hercules Foundation (Flanders) to develop a VRE-SI for the Flemish Universities (Ghent, Antwerp and KU Leuven), from 2016, it is intended that the initial outreach work will be undertaken to extend the implementation of the VRE-SI to all Flemish Universities (Hasselt and Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Through close cooperation and liaison with the universities in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation as well as the Belgian Federal Scientific Institutions, the feasibility of piloting this model more widely within Belgium will also be explored. In the longer-term, once the VRE-SI has been thoroughly tested within Flanders and Belgium, the possibility of DARIAH-EU Partner Institutions outside Belgium this model is a long-term goal.
The DARIAH VRE-SI will ensure that it is interoperable with the standards and best practices laid down by DARIAH-EU via the Virtual Competency Centres, for example for eInfrastructure (VCC1) and Scholarly Content Management (VCC3). The VRE-SI will developed as a research-led infrastructure and therefore be developed based on the requirements of existing research projects with Flanders and Belgium. The best practices and guidelines developed in the context of the DARIAH-EU Virtual Competency Centre for Research and Education Liaison (VCC2). In this way, training and education forms a complimentary part of infrastructural develop and helped to ensure that the uptake and use of the VRE-SI are considered from the outset. Once the first VRE-SI services are operational, the uptake and use of the VRE-SI will be measured.
The sustainability of the VRE-SI needs to be considered from the outset. Although the project team is extremely grateful for the funding granted for the construction and implementation phase of VRE-SI, such a service infrastructure will need to be self-sustainability after the initial construction phase. The sustainability strategy would be to embed the VRE-SI components into the standard service delivery offered by each of the participating institutions, e.g. libraries, IT services. Additionally, the VRE-SI will remain innovative by making sure that applying for external funding for specific developments are part of the sustainability plan from the outset.