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Founding of SSHOC-CH cluster

Driving Open Science forward: Switzerland founds the SSHOC-CH open cluster



On April 24, 2024, during a meeting involving over 60 representatives from national research infrastructures, the Swiss nodes of European ERICs and long-term projects, we launched the “Social Science and Humanities Open Cluster Switzerland (SSHOC-CH)”. This initiative aims to enhance collaboration, find synergies among social sciences and humanities infrastructures, and coordinate national resources to better support SSH scholars in their research and in managing their data in the spirit of Open Science and FAIR principles.


Beat Immenhauser, General Secretary of the Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities, commended the bottom-up formation of SSHOC-CH, noting its broad-based membership from the very beginning. This new organization seeks to streamline coordination across research infrastructures concerning European and national roadmaps, ERICs (European Research Infrastructure Consortium), and the creation of joint tools, platforms, and services.


Bonnie Wolff-Boenisch, Director of CESSDA (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives) and Chair of the SSHOC Open Cluster, praised the initiative, reflecting on SSHOC's evolution from a top-down European Commission project to a sustained collaborative effort backed by a Memorandum of Understanding among European Research Infrastructures that is now also reaching out to the national level.


The founding meeting participants discussed a white paper contextualizing SSHOC-CH within the broader national and European framework, outlined the mission and potential activities, which include participating in the ongoing national policy dialogues, developing joint policies especially with respect to data management and sharing, creating an inventory of existing resources, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, enhancing community engagement, and coordinating funding strategies and training programs.


The founding assembly also formalized the organization by approving its Statutes, electing a Board with 10 members, and appointing Georg Lutz, director of FORS (Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences), to the President position. In his concluding remarks, Georg Lutz emphasized the need for the SSH community to leverage existing resources effectively. The SSH community should design and build robust, valuable projects and infrastructures that bring added value and services to the different research communities and that are professionally managed.


However, he also stated that this should lead to a better recognition of SSH infrastructure needs and ongoing clustering efforts by key policy makers in Switzerland. In the last round of the national roadmap process, only two new rather small projects made it on the infrastructure roadmap, and they still struggled to get funding, the entire roadmap process was biased against SSH projects. The SSH community in Switzerland is now at the forefront of building such a coordinating organisation. In the coming months, the SSHOC-CH Board will start working on the priorities and thus lay the foundation for a stronger and better coordinated national infrastructure landscape.


For more information and to become a member: www.sshoc.ch

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