Evaluating Digital Scholarship recap

~ Allegra Swift Gonzalez

The NITLE seminar on Evaluating Digital Scholarship held on October 10, 2012 is a must hear/read for those “who work in digital media and faculty members or administrators from Network colleges who are charged with evaluating the digital scholarship produced by colleagues.”

Access to the recording is only available to the colleges participating in NITLE, so if you are from Scripps College, Pomona College or Harvey Mudd College , please contact Mary McMahon at Pomona ITS. The slides can be accessed here.

Alison Byerly, College Professor at Middlebury College, Visiting Scholar in Literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and seminar leader for digital scholarship and digital humanities

Byerly spoke about the digital humanities as being new on the radar screen of many who hold responsibility for tenure review and course support. In this new-ish area of study, Byerly has found that there is a need for people to hear more about evaluation from the evaluators’ side.

Slide credit: Alison Byerly

For those faculty working in the field, you will need to educate your colleagues. Continuously. This could be a daily job but not something that can what until the tenure review process is in full swing.

Early education = greater margin of success (really, this applies to just about everything):

  • define and engage
  • document your specific role and who has collaborated/assisted
  • explain the significance
  • look for opportunities – define and explain how DH fits into greater context


  • Educate yourself
  • Review and assess any project in the medium in which it was created (example: don’t print out pages of a website) – this is already happening in the already sciences
  • Recognize that the collaborative nature of DH should be seen as a positive. Not being single author should not diminish stature of the contribution
  • Consult specialists in relevant disciplines
  • Assess candidate’s work in relation to overall institutional expectations

Different examples of works in new presentations and publication format:

New-ish concepts:

  • Complex TV: the poetics contemporary television storytelling by Jason Mitchell
  • “blogging for tenure”
  • databases or programming
  • Docuscope: a text analysis environment with interactive visualization tools
  • Anvil academic – scholarly publishing outside the traditional realm, “an open-access, post-monograph publisher of new, complex forms of scholarly argument.”
  • alternative citation measurements

On the tenure track?

  • seek letters from outside reviewers
  • save and document the feed back on contribution to academic trajectory
  • be sure to clear with with those who give feedback that you’d like to use it as part of tenure file

Drew University Library was approached by deans office about faculty electronic portfolios – this concept is gaining ground

More advice:

  • The tenure process as is is not very good at understanding work in process such as ongoing websites.
  • Document efforts
  • This is something that is changes
  • Look at language for promotion and tenure reviews
  • Just our framing of our works rely on stricts terms don’t work for this flexible arena
  • * Get buy-in before starting or submitting the work. Begin advocacy work early and sustain it.

I highly recommend taking a look at the slides and picking up the standard for DH acceptance and understanding.

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