Mitchell van Zuijlen: 19000 annotated paintings that can be interdisciplinary used

The 4TU.ResearchData dataset from Mitchell’s Ph.D. project got downloaded over 1200 times in 28 countries only 1.5 years after uploading it. “When I was presenting my research at conferences, people were often positive about the idea of publishing the data open access,” Mitchel says. “However, you never know what will happen when you publish the data. It was a big relief to finally put it online and very cool to see all these people using it now.”

Mitchel and his colleagues collected more than 19000 open source paintings from institutes like galleries, museums, libraries, and archives, and created an annotated dataset from it. “We used our dataset to study the depiction and perception of materials through the artists’ eye”, explains Mitchell. “We always had the idea that if the data are interesting to us, they might be interesting to others as well. That’s why we decided to make it open and accessible to everyone. The most amazing and exciting thing about opening up our data has been that people are using our dataset for purposes that we haven’t even thought of before.”

Mitchell helps other researchers in his lab now when it comes to the technical skills needed to create and maintain such an open dataset. “There was no real protocol for getting support when I started, which was a bit frustrating.” He believes that the Open Science community, including the 4TU.ResearchData and its support, is becoming more and more consistent, which will save new researchers time and frustration.

“My next step for this specific dataset is to add more or more specific categories to the data. In the future it would be great to create a dataset where everyone can add and edit data,” Mitchell concludes. “I want to continue creating Open Science whenever possible.”

Links to Mitchell’s data:

Post written by Tonke L. de Jong.

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