Research PortalHumanities and Social Sciences


Scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences are using increasingly complex computational tools, methods, and techniques in their research. There are three elements of the current landscape that place the Humanities and Social Sciences in a position for rapid growth:

  • increasing open source data;
  • increased access to significant computing power; and
  • growing research computing competency among humanities researchers.

To support researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Compute Canada has a dedicated team of professionals led by Compute Canada’s Humanities and Social Sciences Specialist, Dr. John Simpson. For more information, please contact the Humanities and Social Sciences Team via email ( or browse the additional information below.

Additional Information

Compute Canada Services for Humanities and Social Sciences Researchers

For more information on how any of the services listed below can be used to support your Humanities and Social Sciences research, please contact the Humanities and Social Sciences Team.

National Services
National services are available to all members of the research community with documentation in both official languages, trained support team and robust system architectures.

  • Collaboration Services – Sites located across Canada are capable of both delivering and viewing large videoconferences.
  • NEW Cloud – Virtual-machine development space that includes an outward-facing IP address.
  • Computation – Expandable power ranging from the equivalent of a second desktop to supercomputers with thousands of cores, terabytes of RAM, and a variety of system architectures.
  • Data Integrity – Data storage and back-up systems provide stability and security options over your desktop.
  • General Analyst/Consultant Support – Consultations regarding project architecture and resource needs with technical experts with skills ranging from specialty software selection to program optimization.
  • Globus – Fast, secure, sharing and fire-and-forget file transfers.
  • NEW OwnCloud – 50Gb of shareable, Dropbox-like space available across multiple devices.
  • Portals – Hosting for specialized data and tools for entire research communities.
  • Specialized Software – More than 250 software programs and packages already integrated with Compute Canada systems.
  • NEW Storage – Robust storage solutions for backup and mid- to long-term storage.
  • Training – Training sessions covering core skills offered regularly and custom courses available on request.
  • Visualization Support – Dedicated 3D visualization expert available.

To access Compute Canada services and resources, researchers must be registered with the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB). The approval process can take up to 2 business days. For more information, please visit our Apply for an Account page.

Compute Canada Humanities and Social Sciences Team

John Simpson (Chair)
Alex Razoumov
Belaid Moa
Craig Squires
Garth Evans
Félix-Antoine Fortin
James Desjardins
Michele Fash
Mohammed Bencherki
Patrick Mann
Paul Preney
Pawel Pomorski
Megan Meredith-Lobay

To contact the Humanities and Social Sciences Team, please email

Project Profiles: Canadian Leaders in Humanities and Social Sciences

Canada is an international leader in the Humanities and Social Sciences, both historically and today. This is true from the perspectives of research, tools, and training. The following projects are a sampling of current Canadian leaders in the Humanities and Social Sciences field, many of which are leveraging Compute Canada’s advanced research computing services and expertise:

Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC)
The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC, pronounced “Quirk”), led by Susan Brown, is constructing an online writing, editing, and annotation tool for digital texts that is scheduled for release in Fall 2015. While not the first of its kind, the tool offers an extensive feature set and is being built with the input of more than 100 researchers from across Canada and abroad to specifically target the needs of academic researchers. Of particular importance is the ability of the tool to work in both XML and RDF, the language of the semantic web, connecting researchers and research data while hiding much of the background coding. For more information, visit

Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI)
Founded in 2001, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute is the largest training event in the world for the Digital Humanities. DHSI now counts over 1,800 alumni and will offer 40 courses over three weeks, continuing to act as a model for, and direct supporter of, other similar events around the globe. For more information, visit

Érudit is a multi-institutional publishing consortium (Université de Montréal, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Montréal) and a non-profit society established in 1998. The platform gathers in one point nearly 150 Canadian scholarly and cultural publishers, including the most prestigious French-language Canadian university presses, making it the leading provider of Francophone and Canadian peer reviewed journals in North America. For more information, visit

This project is the largest collection of writing about women’s writing in (and related to) the British Isles. Begun in 1995, the project now features over 2.5 million tags. The result is a dataset that continues to stand as an exemplar for effective production and tagging of scholarly research. For more information, visit

Voyant Tools
Voyant Tools is a web-based set of textual analysis tools produced by Geoffrey Rockwell and Stéfan Sinclair. Used in both teaching and research the toolset now sees about 40,000 visits a month and about 750,000 individual tools used across those visits. For more information, visit

Q & A with John Simpson, Compute Canada’s Humanities and Social Sciences Specialist

John Simpson joined Compute Canada in December 2014. He has a diverse background in Philosophy and Computing and is an active contributor to the Digital Humanities as a Member ­at ­Large of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (CSDH/­SCHN) Executive, a Programming Instructor with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), and as Co­Chair, Minimal Computing, with Global Outlook::Digital Humanities (GO::DH).

John’s focus as Compute Canada’s Digital Humanities Specialist is to build programs for outreach, training, and support that will serve the Canadian digital humanities community in its diverse forms. In step with the construction of these programs is the ongoing development of Compute Canada’s ability to understand and respond to the needs of the Canadian digital humanities community.

Q: What is your main message to Canadian Digital Humanities researchers about engaging with Compute Canada?
A: Let’s talk. There are many opportunities available to humanities researchers through Compute Canada, whether they identify as a Digital Humanist or not. From OwnCloud (a Dropbox-like system that will give you 50Gb of shareable storage) to 3D visualization advice to portal development services to data transfer solutions, Compute Canada isn’t just about batch processing based computation. There’s more under the hood than most humanities researchers expect and it is time for them to tap into some of that power.

Q: Why did Compute Canada need a Digital Humanities expert?
A: Compute Canada has a wealth of experience supporting the beyond-the-desktop needs of the sciences but much less experience with supporting the Humanities. The Humanities, even the Digital variety, also have a wealth of experience with humanities-based research but limited experience working with the sort of computing resources that Compute Canada provides. Having someone who is able to speak the language of both groups, a bridge-builder as it were, was a necessary step for Compute Canada to take to expand its user base.

Q: Describe some of the key initiatives you will be leading at Compute Canada?
A: The principal initiative that I will be leading is the Digital Humanities Working Group. Roughly, the mandate of this group translates into three responsibilities:


Digital Humanities researchers need to know that Compute Canada exists and what Compute Canada can do to for them.

Digital Humanities researchers need to know how to apply for Compute Canada resources and how to use them.

We need to build the relationship with Digital Humanities researchers on an ongoing basis, whether this is troubleshooting or otherwise.

Q: Digital Humanities is an exciting area with a long history. What can you share about this?
A: The Digital Humanities is often said to have come into existence when the production of the Index Thomisticus (a tool for searching the entire works of Thomas Aquinas) began in the late 1940’s through a 30+ year collaboration between Fr. Roberto Busa, a Jesuit Priest, and IBM, who provided the computing resources to make the project possible. Another important historical event for the Digital Humanities was the founding of first dedicated journal, Computers and The Humanities, in 1966. This journal, under the guidance of Professor Joseph Raben of the City University of New York for the first 20 years, brought together researchers from across the Arts and Humanities under the umbrella of the digital, laying a foundation for strong cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that continues today. While CHum, as the journal was affectionately called, ceased to exist as originally conceived in 2004, other journals and community resources continue the tradition. Of particular importance is the discussion group known as Humanist (, which has served as a conduit for digital humanities based discussion since 1987.