Successful closing event of the CLARIN-D Working Groups: Time to say goodbye - or is it?

The closing event of the CLARIN-D working groups (WGs) took place on November 14th, 2019, in the “Neue Aula” of the University of Tübingen. More than 20 participants came together in the representative rooms of the university in order to have a final discussion about the WGs’ long-lasting participation in CLARIN-D: Since the start of the project, CLARIN-D has cooperated closely with researchers from various disciplines, and for that reason it has always been of great importance for the project to include the input from the working groups. They have served as initiators in the communities and have, for instance, drawn up curation projects. Among the guests of the closing event, one could find the leaders of the WGs, their staff as well as former members, the representative of the funding organisation, Dr. Maria Böhme (DLR), and the leaders of the CLARIN-D centres. The event was looking both ways, offering a retrospective on the work of the WGs with the possibility of future collaborations in other contexts: The WGs’ work is highly relevant as well as community driven and the needs of the users are growing steadily, so that they will in all likelihood be continued elsewhere and with a new label. 

After Thorsten Trippel (WG 6, Tübingen) had welcomed the participants, members of the WGs offered their perspective on the past and the future of the WGs in four different talks: Cathleen Kantner, leader of WG 7 (Social Science), spoke about the characteristics of infrastructures in general and, in the following, about the establishment of research infrastructures in the digital humanities in the context of highly innovative research projects. She emphasized that such developments included current research debates within the disciplines. According to her, the WGs built up communication structures and feedback loops with the users, including the so-called user communities, which are a frequent object of discussion. To illustrate her point, Cathleen Kantner introduced the audience to the projects PolMine and Eldentity: PolMine digitizes parliamentary proceedings in order to create a digital public archive of democracy. Eldentity focuses on the collection and analysis of newspaper articles. Both projects are closely connected to the wide field of research in the Political Sciences. In Cathleen Kantner’s opinion, a central task for the future is that infrastructures and user communities are maintained and further developed. 

Next in line was Nikolaus Himmelmann, leader of WG 3 (Linguistic Fieldwork, Anthropology, Language Typology). Data which are collected in linguistic fieldwork are, according to Himmelmann, often of great complexity, as they are multi-modal data. Next to these fieldwork data, WG 3 is also concerned with other thematic complexes, e.g. with great databases on lexical language data and structural data, text corpora with glossings or hypertext grammars. Nikolaus Himmelmann emphasized, above all, the importance of the resources’ sustainability: The software ELAN served as an example here, as it is used by many people and is seen as a highly relevant tool. Surprisingly, only very few people, however, possess enough know-how to master the software, as it is extremely complex. In order to secure the software’s future, a lot more training options need to be offered. The same applies to the archiving of collected field data: many of the language data come from languages which are in danger of going extinct, and their data stock exists only in digitised form. Here, a repository type would have to be developed which continues to make these data accessible in a sustainable fashion. 

The third speaker of the day was Christoph Draxler, leader of WG 5 (Speech and other Modalities). He talked about the difficulty constituted by the unreliability of external services and the users’ dependence on such services. Draxler confirmed Himmelmann’s idea that the software ELAN can serve as a prime example and that training options for users are absolutely central. Moreover, he reported that an increasing number of language corpora are being integrated into the BAS (Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals), for instance WASEP, CH-Jugend or Tangram. Regarding the development in Europe, new communities are on the rise: The BAS, for instance, is increasing its connection to the subject area of Oral History. It was involved in the provision of infrastructures for Oral History; for instance in the development of an OH portal as a webpage for data from researchers in Oral History. Oral History data is very different from linguistic and phonetic data which has been processed so far, and this leads to new challenges.

The last to speak was Julia Müller, former research assistant in WG 2 (Other Philologies). She talked about the work of the WGs and their use from the perspective of a young researcher, stressing the multifaceted offers and services which the WGs introduced for young researchers: CLARIN-D offers, for instance, corpora and repositories for (doctoral) theses, or, through the CLARIN-D helpdesk, support in legal matters for researchers who want to create their own corpora. When it comes to research data management, CLARIN offers help and support, and the analysis of research data can be conducted with the help of CLARIN tools, which also come with a lot of training material. Members of CLARIN are also frequently offering workshops on relevant research questions.

A subsequent poster and demo session offered further opportunities to get information on the work of the WGs. Researchers and CLARIN-D staff introduced projects, tools, language data and use cases connected to the WGs. The picture gallery below introduces the work and the people behind the projects.

The Text+ initiative would also ensure a continuation and stabilization of research infrastructures. (Andreas Witt)

At the close of the event, Andreas Witt (IDS Mannheim) introduced the new initiative Text+ and the opportunities that arise for the continuation of the WGs in the context of a national research data infrastructure (NFDI). The NFDI is a central, digital infrastructure which aims at a standardization and continuation of the digital research landscape in Germany. In preparation for the DFG’s call for proposals for such an NFDI, CLARIN-D has joined forces with the project DARIAH-DE: together, they have formed the project CLARIAH-DE. According to Witt, the connection to interested parties in academic research, which the WGs provided, should be kept alive in the future, as the experts from the WGs were able to successfully contribute solutions for the needs of the communities. The future role of the WGs, according to Witt, lies in Text+’s Scientific Coordination Committees for the three areas digital collections, lexical resources and editions, which are made up of expert scientists, and which are supposed to guarantee that the needs of the communities are mirrored in offers, services and tools. These elected scientific experts will, together with an Operations Liaison, annually determine the development of a service portfolio. The technical implementation will be achieved by specific and generic infrastructures together. The Text+ initiative would also ensure a continuation and stabilization of research infrastructures.

This closing event has, once again, brought to light the past achievements that the CLARIN WGs and all people involved have contributed to the research infrastructure and the users. The participants are certain that, with skill and commitment, offers and services for the digital humanities will also be promoted in the context of a national research data infrastructure.

Therefore, we are grateful to all participants for the work they have rendered, the time they have invested and the commitment and motivation with which they have participated in the WGs – and we hope to meet again soon! (The CLARIN-D team)


The CLARIN-D working groups with their multi-faceted services and offers during the poster and demo session in Tübingen:

Working Group 1: German Philology

Poster Titles:

Melanie Grumt Suárez (Tübingen) and Thomas Gloning (Gießen) from WG 1 demonstrate CLARIN-D services for researchers in German Philology. (Source: Julia Müller, CC-BY)

Working Group 2: Other Philologies

Poster Titles:

Julia Müller (Freiburg) from WG 2: Her poster shows a use case scenario to create a corpus with WebLicht. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)

Working Group 3: Linguistic Fieldwork, Ethnology, Language Typology

Poster Titles:

  • Introducing the CLARIN Knowledge Centre for Linguistic Diversity and Language Documentation
  • Optimizing Interoperability of Language Resources with the Upcoming IIIF AV Specifications
Felix Rau (Cologne) and Nikolaus Himmelmann (Cologne) from WG 3. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)

Working Group 4: Human Speech and Language Processing: Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Psychology

Poster Titles:

Lydia Müller (Leipzig) from WG 4 demonstrates the new CLARIN-D portal “Null Results”, whose development was headed by Maria Staudte. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)

Working Group 5: Speech and Other Modalities

Poster Titles:

  • Workflow gesprochene Sprache
Christoph Draxler (Munich) from WG 5 shows a collection of BAS web services on his poster. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)

Working Group 6: Computational Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Poster Titles:

Yana Stratakova (Tübingen), Neele Falk (Tübingen) and Thorsten Trippel (Tübingen) from WG 6 show “community-driven tools and resources”. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)


Working Group 8: History

Poster Titles:

Alexander Geyken (Berlin) and Ernesto W. De Luca (Braunschweig) from WG 8 demonstrate the tool DiaCollo. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)

Some of the participants of the WG closing event at the University of Tübingen. (Source: Melanie Grumt Suárez, CC-BY)


About this blog post


Melanie Grumt Suárez: CLARIN-D Coordination Office in Tübingen since May 2019; before that research assistant in WG 1 at the University of Gießen.
E-mail address: 
Twitter: @mela_g_s 

Dr. Nathalie Walker: CLARIN-D Coordination Office in Tübingen; responsible for the translation into English.
E-mail address: 



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Twitter: (@CLARIN_D)
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Scientific Coordinator CLARIN-D: Prof. Dr. Erhard Hinrichs

Written by : Nathalie Walker

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