Author(s):Christoph Schindler (presenting), Basil Ell

Conference:ECER 2012, The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All

Network:12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network


Session Information

12 SES 02, Analysing and Constructing Virtual Environments

Parallel Paper Session


Room:FFL - Aula 36

Chair:Alexander Botte


Semantic MediaWiki for Collaborative Corpora Analysis: Analyzing Educational Reference Books in a Virtual Research Environment

In this paper, we present the project “Semantic MediaWiki for Collaborative Corpora Analysis” (SMW-CorA) [1] which aims to establish a Virtual Research Environment in the field of Historical Educational Science. In recent years, Virtual Research Environments (VRE) are addressed in national and European science policy agendas to enhance research practice with ICT (Botte et al. 2011, Voss/Procter 2009). While several VRE projects develop large-scale infrastructures mainly based on Grid- or Supercomputing Technologies, the project SMW-CorA aims to build a light-weight environment which is highly configurable and extendible to meet concrete needs in research practice. Thereby, the facilities offered by the Semantic Web and wiki technologies are tailored to realize profound interactions with research objects and collaborations within a networked research environment.

While the technological outcome of the VRE project is designed to be reused in other research communities in the long term, its initial realization is aligned to the analysis of reference books in the field of Educational History. For some time now, digitalization projects have created a considerable number of digitalized books, which are potential research objects in the history of education and come with relevant bibliographic metadata.[2] While tools for Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (AQDAS) do not exploit open data exchange standards (Corti/Gregory 2011), SMW-CorA integrates digitized documents along with their bibliographic metadata that are accessible in open exchange standard formats. Moreover, SMW-CorA strives for providing tools for such analysis.


In order to grasp concrete research needs, participatory and agile design approaches are used and a close collaboration between researchers, libraries and developers is established. The exemplary research corpus consists of more than 20 educational lexica dating from 1774 to 1942 and amounts to nearly 22,000 articles.

Expected Outcomes

The paper addresses the main possibilities currently under development for the VRE SMW-CorA, such as text coding, querying, visualization of findings, and it highlights the need for collaboration in designing a research environment. Thereby the added value of using open exchange standards is exemplified by allowing for quantitative analyses of the bibliographic data. Additionally, SMW-CorA provides a means of annotating the research material in a qualitative and iterative sense, to query both the research corpus and metadata contributed by the researchers. Utilization of the aforementioned open exchange standards renders research material and metadata accessible to the research community and may as such become research objects in follow-up projects.


[1] This project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) entitled: “Entwicklung einer Virtuellen Forschungsumgebung für die Historische Bildungsforschung mit Semantischer Wiki-Technologie - Semantic MediaWiki for Collaborative Corpora Analysis” (INST 367/5-1, INST 5580/1-1) in the domain of “Scientific Library Services and Information Systems“ (LIS). It is realized in a co-operation between the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Library for Research on Educational History (BBF) and historical educational researchers mainly of the Georg-August-University Göttingen.

[2] The Library for Research on Educational History (BBF) is collecting the digitalized resources of the German landscape at


Botte, A.; Rittberger, M. and Schindler, C. (2011): Virtuelle Forschungsumgebungen. Wissenschaftspolitische Erwartungen, informationswissenschaftliche Forschungsfelder und Herausforderungen. In: Griesbaum, J.; Mandl, T.; Womser-Hacker, C. (Eds.): Information und Wissen: global, sozial und frei? Boizenburg : Hülsbusch, Schriften zur Informationswissenschaft, 58, 422-433 [Virtual research environments. Science policy expectations, information scientific fields of research and challenges]
Corti, L.; A. Gregory (2011): CAQDAS Comparability. What about CAQDAS Data Exchange? Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research 12.
Voss, A.; Procter, R. (2009): Virtual research environments in scholarly work and communications. In: Library Hi Tech. 27, 2, 174-190. DOI = 10.1108/07378830910968146

Author Information

Christoph Schindler (presenting)
German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF)
Information Center for Education
Frankfurt am Main
Basil Ell
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany