Humanities and data science

How far can data science and the humanities help to answer each other’s questions?




Humanities and Data Science logoThanks to digitisation efforts over the past decades, humanities scholars now have access to large digital data collections which can be analysed computationally and quantitatively. Such datasets offer a huge range of opportunities to develop new approaches to answer high-profile research questions.


The main aims of the group are to strengthen relationships and build collaborations at the intersection between data science and digital humanities.

Our goal is to raise the profile of data-driven humanities research at the Turing, open up future collaborations, and strengthen the Turing’s links with organisations such as the British Library, the National Records of Scotland and The National Archives in the UK.

The group will show the key role that can be played by The Alan Turing Institute in the area of digital humanities by demonstrating that data science research can answer questions relevant to the humanities and vice versa, thus benefiting both fields. This will be achieved with meetings, workshops, and joint research projects.

Translating fundamental research in data science into lasting impact in the humanities requires interdisciplinary efforts, through the sharing of perspectives, methods and knowledge. The interest group builds on the organisers’ extensive experience in interdisciplinary research on historical data and brings together people from a range of different disciplines.


Talking points

Working groups

Discussing new topics in the humanities and data science

The aim of this sub-group is to stimulate discussions around new topics, publications, events and debates at the many intersections between humanities and data science. We are looking forward to establishing an open and welcoming venue for exchanging opinions across disciplines, research interests and methodologies. 

We rely on the broad range of expertise of group members to set the topic of each meeting and to start the discussion by offering a variety of points of view. We welcome anyone at Turing interested in taking part in the discussion or simply in following the debate while enjoying a cup of tea.

Chair: Federico Nanni (Turing)


This group is composed of members who are involved in delivering and supporting digital humanities teaching and training whether through standalone courses and degree programs or as part of a broader research skills training program across different degrees. An increasing number of institutions are offering teaching provision in the digital humanities, though we recognise that this has reached differing levels of maturity in different locations.

The aim of the sub-group is to provide a forum for the exchange and discussion of the practical and theoretical challenges including institutional barriers related to DH teaching. In particular, we are interested in exploring the following:

  • How to develop good practice in DH teaching, continuing to uphold high pedagogical standards and pursuing innovative teaching approaches that keep pace with the research and technological advances in our discipline
  • How to address institutional challenges that arise from the often fragmentary nature of DH teaching provision, such as liaising across faculties, providing relevant courses for a range of subjects and study levels, and retaining skilled staff
  • How to coordinate efforts across training offerings in order to foster complementarity and address existing gaps

We draw on group members' varied experiences of supporting teaching at their institutions to identify successful strategies. We propose regular face-to-face events for colleagues to discuss and debate these issues and promote broader networking.

Chair: Anne Alexander (Cambridge)

Members: Bea Alex (Edinburgh), Anne Alexander (Cambridge), Giovanni Colavizza (Turing), James Cummings (Newcastle), Rachele De Felice (UCL), Fiona Douglas (Leeds), Leif Isaksen (Exeter), Ewan Jones (Cambridge), Anouk Lang (Edinburgh), Nora McGregor (BL), Thierry Poibeau (ENS), Pip Willcox (National Archives)

Digital humanities Data Study Groups

The aim of this working group to explore opportunities to submit a DH-themed "challenge" for a Turing Data Study Group

Chair: Barbara McGillivray 

Members: Adam Farquhar (British Library), Anne Alexander (Cambridge), David Beavan (Turing), Eirini Goudarouli (The National Archives), James Freeman (Bristol), Lise Jaillant (Loughborough), Mark Bell (The National Archives), Matthew Grenby (Newcastle), Mia Ridge (British Library), Nick Holliman (Newcastle), Stephen Roberts (History of Parliament). 

Data science and digital humanities white paper

This working group aims to write a white paper with recommendations for how to support research at the intersection between data science and humanities. The white paper is available:

McGillivray, Barbara et al. (2020). The challenges and prospects of the intersection of humanities and data science: A white paper from The Alan Turing Institute. Figshare.

Chair: Barbara McGillivray

Members: Beatrice Alex (Edinburgh), Sarah Ames (National Library of Scotland), Guyda Armstrong (Manchester), David Beavan (Turing), Arianna Ciula (King’s), Giovanni Colavizza (Amsterdam), James Cummings (Newcastle), David De Roure (Oxford), Adam Farquhar, Simon Hengchen (Gothenburg), Anouk Lang (Edinburgh), James Loxley (Edinburgh), Eirini Goudarouli (The National Archives, UK), Federico Nanni (Turing), Andrea Nini (Manchester), Julianne Nyhan (UCL), Nicola Osborne (Edinburgh), Thierry Poibeau (CNRS), Mia Ridge (British Library), Sonia Ranade (The National Archives, UK), James Smithies (King’s), Melissa Terras (Edinburgh), Andreas Vlachidis (UCL), Pip Willcox (The National Archives, UK)

How to get involved

There are two main ways to be involved in the group: members and affiliates.

Members. To ensure continuity across the group, we aim to keep the number of members from each Turing partner institution to two and the number of members from other institutions to one. We understand that circumstances can change, so we ask members to confirm their interest at the beginning of every calendar year. The group organises member meetings every second Thursday of the month, from 11 to 12:30, remotely via Zoom. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss group-internal matters and to decide on the focus areas for the group. We ask members to attend at least half of the group meetings in a year, to volunteer to chair some of the meetings and to follow up on specific actions arising from the discussion. If your institution already has two members (in the case of a Turing partner) or one (in the case of all other institutions), please contact them (see list below). If your institution doesn’t yet have the maximum number of members and you have enough time and commitment, you are welcome to join the group as a member by contacting the group convenors ([email protected]).


We keep affiliates updated on the main activities of the group via our mailing list, which anyone is welcome to join. Affiliates are also welcome to join one of the group’s working groups (see above for more information) by contacting the respective chair. If you can’t join as a member but you’re interested in joining as an affiliate, please contact the group convenors ([email protected]).


Recent updates

Previous events


The group is involved in the research network Cyclades (Corpora and Computational Linguistics for Digital Humanities); an international research network at the intersection of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Digital Humanities (DH). The network is made of 8 partners from 4 different counties (Lattice, the SciencesPo médialab and the French national Library – BnF for France; the University of Cambridge, the Turing and the British Library for the UK; the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities for Germany and the Stanford Literary Lab for the USA. The goal of the network is to develop new areas of research (and more specifically new techniques for text analysis), to adapt tools to new problems and to evaluate the solutions proposed in an original way, both qualitative and quantitative.

Towards Large Scale Cultural Analytics in the Arts and Humanities

Turing H&DS were partners in the "Towards Large Scale Cultural Analytics in the Arts and Humanities” AHRC funded project [AH/W007533/1], as part of the Scoping Future Arts & Humanities Led Research programme (also known as AHRC iDAH).”



Dr Theodora Alexopoulou

Assistant Professor in Language Acquisition and Language Typology, PI of the EF Lab for Applied Language Learning & Turing Fellow

Contact info

Please subscribe to our mailing list for updates.

If you are interested in the group, please contact the convenors at the following address: humanitiesanddatascienceconvenors AT turing DOT ac DOT uk


David Beavan, the Turing
Barbara McGillivray, King's College London
Federico Nanni, the Turing
Andreas Vlachidis, UCL


External Members

Charlotte Tupman, University of Exeter
Claire Reddleman, University of Manchester
Dimitris Mylonas,  New College of the Humanities
Eirini Goudarouli, The National Archives
Fraser Sturt, University of Southampton
James Cummings, Newcastle University
James Freeman, University of Bristol
Joanna Taylor, University of Manchester
John Stell, University of Leeds
Julianne Nyhan, UCL
Leif Isaksen, University of Exeter
Lorna Hughes, University of Glasgow
Luca Scholz, University of Manchester
Megan Gooch, University of Oxford
Nicola Osborne, University of Edinburgh
Pip Willcox, The National Archives
Rachel Saunders, University of Nottingham
Sarah Ames, National Library of Scotland
Thomas Irvine, University of Southampton
Tiago Sousa Garcia, Newcastle University



Andrea Nini, University of Manchester
Anne Alexander, University of Cambridge
Alan Blackwell, University of Cambridge
Albert Meroño Peñuela, King's College London
Arianna Ciula, King's College London
Anouk Lang, University of Edinburgh
Brett Greatley-Hirsch, University of Leeds
Ewan Jones, University of Cambridge
Gabriele Salciute Civiliene, King's College London
Genevieve Liveley, University of Bristol
Guyda Armstrong, University of Manchester
Iacopo Ghinassi, Queen Mary University of London
Jack Pink, University of Southampton
James Loxley, University of Edinburgh
Luca Marinelli, Queen Mary University of London
Maria Liakata, University of Warwick and The Alan Turing Institute
Matthew O. Grenby, Newcastle University
Miguel Rodrigues, UCL and The Alan Turing Institute
Rachele De Felice, UCL
Rebecca Roach, University of Birmingham
Richard Ward, University of Exeter
Simon Hosie, Food Standards Agency
Stephen Roberts, History of Parliament
Thierry Poibeau, CNRS and University of Cambridge
Tim EvansImperial College London
Tom van Nuenen, King's College London