The description is submitted to:


Session C5033 (Evaluating Digital Scholarship - Proposed guidelines for MESA), 2017
The growing volume and popularity of digital scholarship have created both challenges and opportunities to develop new approaches to the evaluation of scholarship more broadly. In particular, digital projects highlight the ongoing, processual nature of all scholarship. Print publications such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles can lend themselves quite easily (but falsely!) to the quantifiable metrics of productivity and prestige increasingly popular with university administrators. Digital projects, on the other hand, rarely fit this model, given their open-ended nature and iterative methodological design. This poses a real challenge, especially for pre-tenure and non-tenure track faculty. Moreover, prevailing evaluation and recognition schemas also tend to obscure both the labor and the intellectual contributions of academic staff—librarians, technicians, graduate and undergraduate research assistants—who are essential collaborators on virtually any digital research project, thanks to their unique disciplinary trajectories, sensibilities, and skillsets (whether linguistic, technical, or otherwise). Digital projects do not only rely on such cumulative expertise, but also allow us to track and make explicit the (at times vital) intellectual and technical contributions made by specific team members. The long-term potential of such recognition to challenge the status quo on casual academic labor and the role of data technologists in the academic ecosystem cannot be overstated. Building on experience spearheading two ongoing collaborative digital scholarship projects and introducing digital history courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, this presentation will highlight a few strategies for (a) giving greater visibility to the contributions of various team members to the epistemological and methodological rigor of research projects; (b) questioning prevailing assumptions about what constitutes “valuable” academic labor; and (c) ensuring the long-term sustainability and integration of digital methods into various academic workflows.