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Data management in History of Art

Digital data

Information about art objects can often be found online (e.g. in Europeana) and institutions like the Rijksmuseum stimulate the use of their data. As a researcher, you therefore have access to texts, reproductions, technical recordings, audio, video and sometimes even geographical data. However, you can also create your own digital data, such as recordings, interviews and data derived from analogue equipment.

Managing digital data

Research data management (RDM) ensures that digital data can be found, accessed and understood both during and after the research. Additionally, you provide documentation about e.g. how the data have been cleaned, enriched or otherwise altered in order for the data to be analysed and you explain the used metadata, analytic tools and/or theories. And presentation tools, because the result of your research is not always a book or an article. It may also be a visualisation, a model or a database like Ecartico. RDM done well facilitates the means to check the research and is thus conducive to the integrity and the impact of the research. The Faculty of Humanities has its own Research Data Management Protocol.


An important element in RDM are the metadata. These are indispensable for describing and managing data and data files, and for how they are interpreted within the research. It is best to use the standards in the subject area for these, such as ICONCLASS or the  Art & Architecture Thesaurus.

Data management plan

A prominent part of the handling of research data is the data management plan (DMP). A DMP outlines all aspects of data management during and after the research project. Institutions such as KNAW, NWO and ERC also have specific requirements regarding data management and provide their own DMP. Not everything that is part of the research process will be laid down in the DMP. Especially if more persons collect and process the research data, (new) guidelines about the workflow will have to be made.


Once everything is running smoothly, you will perhaps be looking for storage capacity. From September 28, 2017, all researchers at UvA and AUAS have access to UvA/AUAS figshare, which you can use to safely store your DMP, planning, (processed) data, used tools and corresponding documentation. Each faculty has appointed a data steward for support. 

You can also store your data elsewhere. Multiple UvA communities, including the Amsterdam Centre for the Study of the Golden Age, provide storage space and SURF offers storage space called SURFdrive.


Once you have concluded your research, you can archive your data (files), or a representative selection, in a repository. This has certain advantages: the data may be made available for reuse, educational purposes and peer review, although this is not yet common practice in our subject field.

To find closed datasets, you can consult DANS Easy, the most important data archive for the Dutch humanities. Other data archives may be found via Archiving.


If you have questions, please contact dhr. drs. M. G. (Martien) Versteeg, the information specialist voor Art History.