The description is submitted to:


Session C5033 (Evaluating Digital Scholarship - Proposed guidelines for MESA), 2017
Evaluating scholarship that employs digital methodologies and tools of analysis does not pose any great challenge to tenure committees so long as that scholarship is published in the conventional venues of our given fields such as articles and books. Digital scholarship in the humanities becomes a challenge to the tenure committee only when it assumes a more unconventional form such as a public website, app, digital database, or computational tool developed by the scholar. In this regard, the problem of evaluating digital scholarship arises from the political economy of academic publication within the modern university and the ways in which the considerably more open and independent culture of internet publishing, software development, and coding naturally lead scholars beyond the narrow confines of academic print publication culture. Simply put, legible forms of scholarship reside within the domain of academic presses and journals that facilitate peer review and disseminate work and in fulfilling this role, control key modes of academic production. While the same standards used to judge “non-digital” contributions to public humanities scholarship or other service to the field can be applied to projects ranging from scholarly websites to field-specific software and digital tools, academic organizations may affirm a commitment to non-monetized, collaborative, and outward facing platforms for scholarship or open source software, code, and data sets in setting down guidelines for evaluating the contributions of digital scholarship. Although work in the digital humanities may not always be subject to the same types of peer review or further the same types of analytical arguments as the well-tread genres of academic articles and monographs, the systematic undervaluing of digital scholarship on the part of tenure committees would serve to implicitly deny the need for academic work to be open, public-facing, or collaborative.