Ten International Research Funders Announce Round Three of the Digging into Data Challenge

(Ottawa, February 5, 2013)‒What does “big data” mean for researchers in the humanities and social sciences? Today, 10 international research funders are jointly announcing their participation in round three of the Digging into Data Challenge, a grant competition designed to spur computationally intensive research in the humanities and social sciences.

During the first two rounds of the Challenge, held in 2009 and 2011, nearly 150 teams, representing collaborations among scholars, scientists and librarians from universities from across Canada, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom, competed to demonstrate how innovative research methods using big data could be used to address questions in the humanities and social sciences. Twenty-two of those teams were awarded grants during the earlier rounds, each of them proposing new approaches for analyzing vast digital resources applicable to humanities and social science research, such as books, survey data, economic data, newspapers, music, and other scholarly, scientific, and cultural heritage resources that are now being digitized on a large scale.

The first two rounds of The Digging into Data Challenge sparked enormous interest from the international research community and the media. In 2012, a major report was issued by the Council on Library and Information Resources, noting that “the Digging into Data Challenge investigators have demarcated a new era—one with the promise of revelatory explorations of our cultural heritage that will lead us to new insights and knowledge, and to a more nuanced and expansive understanding of the human condition.”

“SSHRC is delighted with the continued success of The Digging into Data Challenge in enhancing digital scholarship. Through international partnerships, researchers are addressing the complex challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. Their work will contribute to a better understanding of the critical skills and tools required to collect, preserve, and analyze digital data,” said Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the earlier rounds, the Digging into Data Challenge is pleased to announce that two additional funders have joined for round three — the Canada Foundation for Innovation (Canada) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada)—making a total of 10 partner agencies, enabling this competition to have a worldwide reach into many different scholarly and scientific domains. The eight other organizations include the Arts & Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom), the Economic and Social Research Council (United Kingdom), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (United States), the Joint Information Systems Committee (United Kingdom), the National Endowment for the Humanities (United States), the National Science Foundation (United States), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research in collaboration with The Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) (Netherlands), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada).

Final applications will be due May 15, 2013. Further information about the competition and the application process, as well as about current Digging into Data projects, can be found at www.diggingintodata.org.


  • Arts & Humanities Research Council Canada Foundation for Innovation National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Economic & Social Research Council Joint Information Systems Committee National Science Foundation Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

For more information on this release and other SSHRC joint initiatives, please contact:

Julia Gualtieri
Media Relations Adviser
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Email: julia.gualtieri@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
Tel.: 613-944-4347

Crystal Sissons
Program Officer
Partnerships Portfolio
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Email: crystal.sissons@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
Tel.: 613-947-4539