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BISHOPS : Belgian Infrastructure for Social Sciences and Humanities Open Science

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"Building an interfederal support infrastructure for open research data in human and social sciences"

Fundamental scientific research is a key factor in progress and innovation. While researchers are well aware of this correlation, financial restraints force choices upon research activities. As funds are scarce, they must be used as expediently as possible and be based on previous works in order to avoid redundancy. It is therefore of interest to share research data – this development is in line with an increasingly applied open data policy. But opening up and sharing data also bears risks. A framework that ensures quality standards and protects the rights of researchers (for example intellectual property) is necessary to mitigate these risks.

To this end, the BISHOPS project (Belgian infrastructure for Social Sciences and Humanities Open Science) was launched as a complement to the SODA project which aims at creating a Belgiuan data archive according to the standards established by the ERIC Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA). In the SODA data archive, research data from social sciences will be conserved and made available for researchers.

This infrastructure will be adapted via BISHOPS in order to also include data from human sciences. The aim is to prevent important research data in human sciences that is the result of long-term research work from getting lost. Organisations that fund research, such as Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO), Fonds de la Recherche scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS) and Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) share this long-term vision. In the latest round of calls for Brain 2.0 project proposals for example, the mandatory use of the SODA/BISHOPS infrastructure was included in the contract conditions.

In order to meet these objectives, BISHOPS shall:

  • Analyse the needs of potential users.
  • Analyse  the standards for metadata used in different scientific disciplines.
  • Develop infrastructure suited to the needs of the users.
  • Organise training for users and spread “good practices”.
  • Set up a business model to guarantee the sustainability of the infrastructure.


The project is funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). Its partner institutions are:

  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Karine Lascarina, researcher)
  • Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) (Erik Buelinckx, Head of Info library and Digitisation unit)
  • Meise Botanic Garden (Patricia Mergem, Liaison Officer and coordination of APM”s DiSSCo program, and Nicole Hanquart, Dariah Officer)

BISHOPS is also supported by:

  • Research infrastructures
  • Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (Christophe Verbruggen, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy)
  • KU Leuven : Libis (Roxanne Wyns, Innovation manager & Jo Rademakers, head of Libis) ; Faculty of Letters (Tom Gheldof, researcher)
  • UCLouvain : Faculty of Philosophy, Arts and Letters ; Institute for the Study of Civilisations, Arts and Letters (INCA) (Xavier Rousseaux, Research director FNRS)
  • Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Marc Vanholsbeeck, PhD lecturer/ Director at Scientific Research Directorate, Ministry of Wallonia-Brussels Federation)
  • University of Antwerp: Library (Trudi Noordermeer, Chief Librarian/General Director) ; Department of Literature (Dirk Van Hulle)


At the National Archives of Belgium, the following people are involved in the project:

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