What makes a successful innovation? 

OPERAS Innovation Lab aims to provide a knowledge hub on novel scholarly communication and prototype innovative and FAIR services for OPERAS Research Infrastructure to support open scholarly communication in the social sciences and humanities.

Magdalena Wnuk at the Digital humanities, citizen science and the arts: synergies towards innovative formats workshop session at the Connect. Collaborate.Create Conference.
©Emilia Da Silva Rosario – erebstudio

What makes our idea effective, rewarding and useful? This was the question addressed during a workshop session Digital humanities, citizen science and the arts: synergies towards innovative formats, at the COESO project conference entitled Connect. Collaborate.Create (18–21 October 2023 in Paris-Aubervilliers). The session was an opportunity to present the assumptions of the OPERAS Innovation Lab and the methods it wants to develop in the area of evaluating innovative projects.

The conference Connect. Collaborate. Create was not only the culmination of the COESO project, but above all an opportunity for practitioners of citizen science to meet and discuss this particular research trend at the interface of science and social activity. Citizen science and participatory research take on very different models and are applied in many disciplines. In the case of the social sciences and humanities, they are particularly present in the study of social policies or archival science. Citizen science has been supported by the European Commission in recent years. EC’s funding should contribute to the development of projects involving different communities. Many of these collaborative projects are experimental and involve the development of innovative research approaches or the creation of new datasets, methods or tools. 

Magdalena Wnuk from IBL PAN introduced the OPERAS Innovation Lab in a session that discussed the innovation of projects involving non-scientists. In addition to the presentation about the Lab, the session participants were able to learn about a participatory research project by Chiara Girlando (EHEES – École des hautes études en sciences sociales) and the video annotation application Memorekall, developed by Professor Clarisse Bardiot at the University of Rennes 2.

Chiara Girlando at the Digital humanities, citizen science and the arts: synergies towards innovative formats workshop session at the Connect. Collaborate.Create COESO Conference.
©Emilia Da Silva Rosario – erebstudio

We opened the session with a presentation about the OPERAS Innovation Lab, which primarily aimed to define innovation and methods for its evaluation.

Following classical economic studies from the 2nd half of the 20th century, we defined innovation as the implementation of an idea to improve existing or create new processes, solutions or products (Schumpeter 1983).

However, as OPERAS Innovation Lab, we are primarily interested in social innovation, which aims to improve the well-being of a community, in our case, the broader community of humanists and social scientists. The innovations that OPERAS wants to support are primarily digital in nature, as this is the form in which open scholarly communication is developing.

The OPERAS Innovation Lab was presented as a team aiming to support innovative solutions and their creators. The session was an opportunity to share the methodology of the ‘case studies’ that will be carried out in the coming year within the framework of Work Package 4 in the OPERAS-PLUS project, in which IBL PAN participates.

OPERAS Innovation Lab’s case studies are in-depth analyses of innovative projects at different stages of their development, aiming to precisely define the scope and objectives of the project, as well as to identify shortcomings and difficulties in their implementation or maintenance.

The next presenters in the session were Chiara Girlando and Clarisse Bardiot, who described interesting use cases/examples of the Innovation Lab’s approach. Chiara, as an early music researcher, is currently working on recreating a particular type of performance by Monteverdi. This work, which combines opera and madrigal, was not performed in a theatre, but in a room in a Venetian house. The researcher is carrying out her project in collaboration with artists and theatre staff, and the result will be a reconstruction of the performance in Venice in April 2024. 

It became apparent quite quickly that the Memorekall app created by Clarisse Bardiot could be a useful tool for the researcher during the reconstruction stage of the actors’ and orchestra’s layout and later as a tool for annotating the recording of the event. Clarisse presented her app as a tool that serves both artists and researchers to analyse choreography, dance arrangements or films. Memorekall, in its latest version, allows a layout to be developed in the form of a diagram and superimposed on a video of a real performance, and it is also possible to initially work on video recordings. During the session, we reflected on the innovative project Memorekall in the context of its usefulness for researchers like Chiara and the difficulties of developing it and responding to current user needs.

For projects such as Memorekall, the biggest challenge is maintenance and development, which are heavily dependent on access to specialists as well as funding and IT facilities. 

The OPERAS Innovation Lab methodology in the future will serve such projects as Memorekall to evolve and redesign their assumptions to best meet the needs of different stakeholders, both users and sponsors. 


J. Schumpeter, (1983). The theory of economic development: an inquiry into profits, capital, credit, interest, and the business cycle. 

More about the OPERAS Innovation Lab:

EU Funding

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