The Leibniz Association places particular emphasis on the construction, running, and further development of information infrastructures. With its specialist libraries, archives and information and data centres, the Leibniz Association offers numerous resources for scientists and researchers.
The work of the ‘Commission on the Future of Information Infrastructure’ (KII) highlighted the extraordinary competence of the Leibniz Association in this field. Spearheaded by the Leibniz Association, the Commission proposed a ‘General Strategy for Information Infrastructure in Germany’ to the Joint Science Conference (GWK) in 2011. The Leibniz Association will continue to lend its expertise in advising the Council for Information Infrastructures.
The digital revolution has fundamentally changed how we can spread information and therefore conduct scientific research. Digital resources such as databases, digital libraries and digitalised collections are especially well suited for remote access since they can be used and connected regardless of physical borders. The demands have increased accordingly: Leibniz Information Infrastructures are constantly assimilating innovative developments in research and technology to be able to overcome the new challenges they face, such as guaranteeing the capacity of information to be analysed, securing long-term accessibility for digital data and data security. The Leibniz Association does not just make resources available worldwide, it also assists scientists in managing digital data gathered in the research process for further use by the scientific community.
Information infrastructures - examples
With over 25 billion words, the German Reference Corpus (DeReKo) is the world’s largest linguistically motivated collection of texts in contemporary written German. DeReKo contains fictional, academic and popular scientific texts, internet-based communication as well as a large number of newspaper texts and a diverse range of other types of texts. It spans the period of time from the middle of the 20th century to the present day. Exploring this empirical data, researchers are able to verify and expand current hypotheses about language use and to develop new concepts employing procedures designed to reveal structural features of language. The disciplines of lexicography and applied linguistics require authentic linguistic uses that can serve, for example, as the first recorded incidence of a new word or meaning. No less interesting is the distribution of numerous incidences of linguistic developments considered from various angles. For example, do noticeable trends emerge in connection with the temporal, thematic or regional distribution? Particularly in light of linguistic change, shifts in typical and contextual usage are telling indicators.
Access: User access. The reference corpus is designed for empirical linguists and anyone interested in questions concerning the use of German in today’s written texts.
The Georg Eckert Institute (GEI) is home to the world’s most extensive collection of educational textbooks, housed in its one-of-a-kind research library. The library currently contains 178,000 textbooks from 170 countries. The focus here is on value oriented, sometimes strongly politicised subjects such as History, Geography, Politics, Social Studies, Religion, Ethics and Philosophy. With its wide range of academic literature, easy accessibility and qualified advisory capacities, the GEI library offers the ideal conditions for researchers in numerous disciplines to work on the medium of the school textbook. The research library is constantly expanding its digital offerings. School textbooks from the 17th century to 1918 are currently being digitalised, funded by the German Research Foundation. Over 3,500 textbooks in the subjects of History, Geography, Material Culture and Civic Education can be accessed at www.gei-digital.de. The expanding corpus will soon include one million textbook pages. These, along with research tools developed by the institute, such as the Curricula Workstation and a databank for officially approved textbooks, can be searched online. Every year, academics and scientists from different countries visit Braunschweig to take advantage of the library and its services.
Access: User access. The International Textbook Library is aimed at academics, teachers and students as well as multipliers from practical education.
The library of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) is the largest library for peace and conflict research in the German-speaking world. With 53,300 books, 30,070 US and UN documents, 8,700 volumes of periodicals, 41,600 reports and documents from research institutes and 170 current periodicals, the library is one of the few open access libraries with an extensive collection devoted to theories of international relations, global politics, civil war, European security, armament dynamics and arms control. Integrated into the library is Germany’s only special collection on US Foreign Policy, which encompasses 20,200 books, 18,500 reports and working papers, and 24,860 US documents concerning security, arms and arms control policy, trade, energy and foreign policy, and decision-making processes on security issues. The collection focuses on transatlantic relationships with world powers such as Russia and China as well as relations with Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Access: Open access. The library is open to all readers. Although the library is primarily a reference collection, local and inter-library loans are available upon request.
The German National Library of Economics (ZBW) is the world’s largest information centre for academic literature on economics. Online and offline, the facility spans the globe’s continents with a collection of over 4.3 million volumes of specialised literature on economics and over 26,000 current periodicals. In addition the ZWB is currently making available the world’s fastest growing online collection of Open Access documents: EconStor, the digital publications server, now hosts around 70,000 open access essays and working papers. EconBiz, the search engine for international specialised information about economics, now allows users to research over nine million data banks online. The ZWB plays an active role in the Open Access movement, which aims to secure free access to academic information. In this capacity the ZWB takes the lead in negotiating national licences in the field of economics. The ZWB’s innovative library work was honoured with the international LIBER award for three consecutive years from 2011-2013. In 2014, it was voted “Library of the Year” by the German Library Association.
Access: Open access. The ZWB is open to all interested parties.
Acting in the capacity of the German National Library of Science and Technology, as well as architecture, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics, the TIB provides academia, research and business with literature and information. As part of the national information and research infrastructure, its mission is to ensure the supply of information in its fields of science Its remit is to preserve recorded knowledge and to provide the latest information, both now and in the future, irrespective of the time and the place. Its holdings include 9.3 million media units and 57,500 journals, including more than 45,000 electronic journals. TIB is one of eight libraries that negotiate alliance licences and national licences with publishing companies and other information providers, ensuring the provision of media. TIB is actively engaged in promoting Open Access and thus supports unrestricted, free access to scientific information.
Access: Open access.
The German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures is one of the largest centres for bioresources and the most diverse collection of live bacterial cultures in the world. Located in Braunschweig, the collection contains more than 49,000 cell cultures, including over 24,000 different microbial and fungal strains, 750 human and animal cell lines, 800 plant cell lines, 1,300 plant viruses and antisera and 10,700 different types of genomic DNA. The extensive services and quality offered at the DSMZ have earned an international reputation in the scientific community. The institute not only offers authenticated, genetically stable biological material for basic research, but also helps explain and solve environmental problems and provides biomaterials for industrial production. The DSMZ’s collection of microorganisms covers almost the entire range of currently known prokaryotic cells, or 85 per cent of the 9,400 classified bacterial strains. In addition, the collection also contains several unique special collections, such as microorganisms which break down pollutants. Every year the staff at DSMZ send nearly 40,000 cultures to research laboratories to over 90 countries worldwide.
Access: User access. The collection and services of the DSMZ are available to research institutions, laboratories, national reference centres and industrial partners.
Since 1989, teaching and research has been increasingly interested in East Central Europe. Despite this interest, many written sources, statistics and maps remain largely inaccessible with the result that certain topics are little researched and treated in the classroom. The platform ‘Documents and Materials on East Central European History’ at the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe (HI) allows online users to view sources on the history of the region which were previously hard to obtain. The collection can be viewed in two languages (German/English) and offers both scans and transcriptions of the sources, which include texts held only by archives as well as published sources previously unavailable in German. Further holdings include photographs, maps, tables and statistics. The individual topic modules, compiled by experts in the field, reflect the geographical breadth and historical depth of East Central Europe. Modules designed for university level teaching span from the German Order and mediaeval Prussia to Latvia in the interwar period to the population transfer of the Poles from the former Polish eastern territories from 1944-1947.
Access: Open access. The online sources edition is designed for university lecturers and students and anyone interested in Eastern European history.
The digital atlas at the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) offers a visual journey through the ages of the European states from 1500 onwards. Nearly 350 maps are already available online, many of which are supported by interactive geo-information systems, and give an overview of the political, religious and dynastic changes in Europe over the centuries. The thematic series illuminate the economic, social and demographic developments and demonstrate in visual terms the transnational and transcultural connections in European history from the early modern period to the present day. The maps focus on different political structures and are available as GIFs and in Postscript format. Synoptic representations of modes of transportation in Germany from roads to rail to shipping are also shown. The digital cartographic representations were designed by historians and cartographers. The individual maps make up a self-contained record which has been extended to a more comprehensive historical and geographical information system at www.atlas-europa.de.
Access: Open access. The Digital Atlas on the History of Europe is aimed at anyone interested in the history of borders and definitions of space.
The online service STN (Scientific & Technical Information Network) is the worldwide leader in the field of research and patent information. STN International places a unique combination of data banks supporting innovation at the disposal of information specialists and academic and business researchers. Experts estimate that 70-90 per cent of all published technical knowledge is documented solely in patent publications. To minimise their investment risk, research institutes and businesses need reliable information on the state of technology, competition and the market. With over 1.5 billion documents, STN International’s data banks contain exactly this information, which ranges from academic articles and patents to facts about chemical structures and reactions to chemical properties and genetic sequences. In addition to research functions, STN International provides analytic tools to visualise and statistically assess such results. These can be ordered or downloaded as full text documents using the integrated document delivery service FIZ AutoDoc with a single click.
Access: User access. STN International is designed for information specialists and academics from various disciplines.
How happy are the Germans? How much time do fathers spend with their children on a daily basis? The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), Germany’s oldest multi-disciplinary long-term study, provides information on these and many more questions. Every year since 1984, several thousand people have taken part in the survey. Today there are about 30,000 survey respondents from 15,000 households. The survey provides information on income, employment, education, health and personal happiness. The same people take part in the survey every year, allowing researchers to follow long-term social trends as well as developments particular to specific population groups over the course of the survey participants’ whole lives – the research encompasses their entire lifespan. Since 2003, researchers have been collecting information on the children living in the houses of the SOEP survey participants. This allows for increasingly precise intergenerational analyses of social mobility in German society. More than 500 scientists from different disciplines worldwide use the data collected by the SOEP.
Access: User access. The data collected by the SOEP is available to researchers worldwide. The information is used by sociologists and economists as well as psychologists and life scientists.
The German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) provides data on attitudes, behavioural patterns and social structures in the German population. Which conflicts of interest between social groups are particularly acutely felt? How is social inequality perceived in Germany? Without surveys these sensitivities would be unknown in Germany. However, surveys are expensive and not every researcher can collect their own data. ALLBUS offers researchers and young scientists a qualitatively valuable database to analyse issues relevant to society. Since 1980 ALLBUS has been collecting its findings every two years. A representative cross-section of the German population is questioned using face-to-face interviews. Every survey is done with a new sample of interview candidates. Immediately after processing and elaborated documentation, the anonymised data are made available by the GESIS Research Data Center ALLBUS. Researchers can then use this information to analyse attitudes and behavioural patterns over time and in international comparisons.
Access: User access. ALLBUS is aimed at researchers. A free download on the website makes the information available to all interested parties.
As part of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), data is collected with a view to describing and analysing centralised educational processes and trajectories over the entire life span. From 2009 until 2012, six so-called ‘starting cohorts’ were launched consisting of over 60,000 participants ranging from infants to people who have completed their working life. All panel participants are interviewed at regular intervals over a long period of time; competence measurements likewise take place at regular intervals. This data is supplemented by information supplied by 40,000 people from the children and young people’s environment. The data collected is subject to strict quality controls and processed and documented in a user-friendly way by the Research Data Centre of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (RDC-LIfBi). The RDC-LIfBi offers three free options for national and international researchers to use the NEPS data for analysis: 1. Scientific Use Files are available for download on the NEPS website. This data has been anonymised to the fullest extent. 2. Sensitive data can be analysed using modern remote-access technology (Remote-NEPS). 3. Guest visits on-site offer the possibility of more detailed analyses with maximum data security.
Access: User access. NEPS is designed for researchers.
Today at least eight per cent of adults in Germany between the ages of 18 and 69 years suffer from diabetes mellitus. The resulting diseases contribute to a significant reduction in quality of life and marked increase of risk of death. Possible effects include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and diabetic foot syndrome, which can require amputation. In the context of the German Diabetes Study, people with recently diagnosed diabetes are observed over a period of up to ten years. The study examines how diabetes changes over time and the factors responsible for causing and developing secondary diseases from diabetes. The study aims to research the influence of single factors alone and in conjunction, and develop new treatment concepts that can be implemented in a targeted way. A total of 2,000 patients are going to be involved in the study.
Access: Shared access. The generated data is made available to the public in scientific publications.
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