Digital Scholarship

Digital Scholarship encompasses a wide range of projects that make use of technology in ways that can include research, analysis, composition, and publishing.  DLINQ is ready to consult on the design and pedagogical considerations for successful digital scholarship projects in your course.

DLINQ is also happy to facilitate partnerships with librarians and other subject-matter experts. For example, if your project uses datasets, special collections, or other archival data, we can connect you with a librarian who can share their expertise and provide guidance. Depending on the technical needs of your project, we can also facilitate connections with our colleagues in Information and Technology Services.

This page outlines the primary considerations for planning a course-based digital scholarship project.

Before diving into specific tools and technologies, it’s important to remember that the goals of your project should determine what tool you use and not the other way around. If you lead with the tool, you will likely have to adapt your project based on the tool’s limitations. Instead, ask yourself what the objectives of your project are and which tool can help you reach them.  

When selecting a tool, you might also consider the technical learning curve. Do you or other team members have experience using the tool? How much time are you willing to devote to learning the tool, if necessary? Have you identified a means of obtaining technical support? DLINQ provides technical support for many tools, but not all. If you plan on contacting DLINQ for technical support, it’s worth making sure you’re using a tool we can support.

You might also consider whether there is a cost associated with the tool. DLINQ recommends free, open-source technology, when possible.

WordPress

  • WordPress is a personal publishing platform and blogging application with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.

Omeka

  • Omeka is a free, flexible, and open-source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.

Scalar

  • Scalar is a free, open-source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required.

Press Books

  • Pressbooks is simple book-production software. You can use Pressbooks to publish textbooks, scholarly monographs, syllabi, fiction and non-fiction books, white papers, and more, in multiple formats.

MiddCreate

  • MiddCreate is a web-hosting service that gives users their own web domain.  It can be used to host multiple websites, services, and even apps.  Popular uses include custom WordPress sites that go beyond the functionality of sites dot, personal Scalar installations, and web forums.  DLINQ is happy to consult with you on how and whether MiddCreate can serve your project.

If you don’t see a particular tool listed here, you are still encouraged to reach out to us regarding your digital scholarship project. DLINQ is always interested in exploring new tools and would be happy to discuss options with you.

To be successful, digital scholarship projects need to be managed, and students need instruction in, and opportunities to practice, project management.  DLINQ can consult with you to incorporate the right kinds of project management for your course.  Depending on the nature of the work, that could include developing pitches, proposals, or plans; building in opportunities for reflection and status reporting; or creating and managing project inventories and backlogs.

Sustainability & Maintenance

To remain viable and accessible to users, digital projects will require some level of ongoing attention and maintenance.  This will typically fall to the project lead, so consider how and when you will acquire the requisite skills.  Also consider when a reasonable time is for the project to end, sunset, or enter benign neglect.

For a comprehensive approach to sustainable project management of digital scholarship, see The Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap by the Visual Media Workshop at the University of Pittsburgh.

Digital scholarship projects, by nature, are often group projects. While group projects often get a bad rap, we think they can be successful and even instrumental in creating a successful digital scholarship project. To address the potential pitfalls of group projects, it’s important to define everyone’s roles at the outset. What are the roles and responsibilities of each group member? Does each member agree to these expectations?

For big projects, consider a project compact. Project compacts are a way to lay out, at the outset, the roles and responsibilities of contributors (including collaborating faculty, students, and staff), and how those contributions will be acknowledged.  They can address time frame, work scope, project management, and how changes and adaptations can and will be proposed, reviewed, and implemented.

To ensure an equitable group experience, it’s helpful to establish group norms in addition to roles and responsibilities. How will the group communicate? What forms of communication are preferred or unacceptable? How will the group address conflict or roadblocks? 

As an instructor, you should plan on scaffolding different steps of the project. By completing the project in phases, you can provide feedback throughout the process and better identify issues as they arise. Additionally, you might ask your students to rotate through different tasks or roles as the project progresses. Doing so can help ensure a more equitable distribution of labor and prevent students from being pigeonholed into certain tasks based on their perceived strengths or weaknesses (e.g., male students doing more of the technical work while female students work on style or design). 

At the end of the project, you can ask your students to submit reflections on the process of completing the assignment. Think of this less as a chance for students to tell on their peers and more of an opportunity for them to self-assess their own contributions.

EXAMPLES

2021-09-06T06:02:18-07:00

Perspectives on Hairwork: Historic Vermont

This website was built by Professor Ellery Foutch and students of her Middlebury College Winter 2021 class “Material Culture in Focus: Hair & Hairwork” (AMST 1017), a course that explored the multivalent meanings of hair in American culture, past and present. Our research was focused on local examples of hairwork: nineteenth-century hand-made objects constructed from human hair, often exchanged as mementos or transformed into elaborate items of jewelry or keepsake wreaths that emblematized familial relationships and kinship networks.

Project website

2021-09-06T05:59:19-07:00

Social Class and the Environment Textbook

The project for this textbook began in the spring semester of 2020—pre-COVID19. Halfway through that spring semester, all at Middlebury College were sent home. The student-authors in the course opted to continue to work on the textbook. After the pre-COVID19 introduction to SCALAR, student-authors opted to continue with the project because the collaborative writing assignments, pages in SCALAR, could be done virtually by synthesizing synchronous and asynchronous activities, and ZOOM meetings, with each other and me.

The spring 2021 course  picked-up where the spring 2020 course left off. This meant going back to the pages student-authors constructed, edit and revise, and create media where appropriate. “Lessons” and any additional pedagogical matter that involves writing on the part of the student user, I created.

Project website

2021-09-06T06:02:55-07:00

Write Like A Scientist

Write Like a Scientist is designed to aid students in writing more effectively in the genres that professional scientists routinely read and write.

Write Like a Scientist differs from the many available scientific writing guides out there. We know that simply reading a tip (“be concise!”) doesn’t immediately translate into understanding and into improved writing.  Instead of simply telling students what to write or providing to-do lists, we provide guided practice in recognizing and emulating the features of effective writing and in making intentional writing choices. In doing so, we help students become more flexible and reflective scientific writers who can successfully address multiple audiences.

Project website