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Session C5033 (Evaluating Digital Scholarship - Proposed guidelines for MESA), 2017
It has never been entirely clear to me why scholarship in the digital humanities should pose challenges for evaluation, but I recognize that it may have something to do with the uncertainty about what digital scholarship is. For simplicity’s sake, let us propose that most projects in this arena can be thought of as “digital” insofar as they: (1) make use of digital technology for presentational purposes – in the form of websites, visualizations, etc.; (2) or, they depend on computation as part of their methodology.

Many projects do both, but one can certainly imagine a project that is based on “traditional” humanities research with no computation at all and yet which is considered “digital” because it is published in an online interactive journal or website. Similarly, one could envision a humanities project based on cutting-edge computational methods, the results of which are published as a traditional paper book or journal article. In other words, we can distinguish projects that are methodologically digital and/or presentationally digital, and this needs to be kept in mind as we think about how evaluation should take place.

Another important distinction that needs to be reflected on is the distinction between projects that represent resources or tools (websites, software packages, databases, gazetteers, etc.) and projects that make arguments in the way that we expect traditional monographs to do. In our current environment, the latter type of project has a greater degree of value attached to it. But should it?