D4Science serves mainly scientific communities but gCube, the service-based system that operates the infrastructure, is unbiased in supporting collaborations across diverse research disciplines. For its emphasis on application-level requirements of information and knowledge management, gCube is in fact ideally suited to support researchers in the Humanities. At the same time, the notion of Virtual Research Environment (VRE) for the Humanities is commanding increasing attention in the UK, thanks to successful initiatives in Archeology (e.g. the Silchester Town Life VRE, the Virtual Environments for Research in Archeology, Ancient History (e.g. A VRE for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts, the Linking and Querying Ancient Texts (LaQuAT) project, and the Digital Humanities at large (e.g. textVRE). In this respect, the European initiative DARIAH indicates that the Humanities are no different from the Sciences in requiring general-purpose, scalable, and cost-effective solutions to VRE definition and management, particularly those built on the controlled and dynamic sharing of infrastructural resources (hardware, software, and data).
The Centre for e-Research at Kings' College, London (CeRch) believes that the integration and transparencies offered by gCube may be part of the vision for Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities, and it has recently liaised with the University of Strathclyde to carry out a set of preliminary experiments based on gCube. The experiments will be carried out in the context of the gMan, a six-month project recently funded under the VRE Rapid Innovation Programme of the Joint Information Systems Committee UK (JISC). Th project will focus on use cases related to the organisation of the information for research and on ‘active reading’ processes supported by advanced search, browse, and annotations services. A preliminary VRE for the experiments has been created in the Ecosystem VO of the D4Science Infrastructure and activities are underway to integrate a selection of independent yet semantically related data sources, such as: the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis (HGV) der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Aegyptens, a database of metadata records for some 55,000 Greek papyri, mostly from Roman Egypt and its environs; Projet[sic] Volterra,a database of Roman legal texts, and associated metadata, from various sources (epigraphic, papyrological, or literary); and the Inscription of Aphrodisias, a corpus of about 2,000 ancient Greek inscriptions from the Roman city of Aphrodisias in Asia Minor.