Plan Your Project
Creating digital scholarship can take years of research, planning, and coordination, which is why it's important to create a project plan and timeline as early as possible. While your plan may evolve and need to be updated over time, it's a good idea to use it as a guide to stay organized. Here are some factors to consider:
- A summary of the project:
- What is the primary purpose of your project? Think of a way to describe your project in two or three sentences. This abstract can be used to pitch to funders or to communicate with your intended audience and peers.
- Intended audience:
- Who will the audience be for your project? In most cases, it's available on the web, it will be available to anyone, but who would be most interested in your site? Consider how others might use or reuse your content.
- Digital scholarship projects often, but not always, involve collaboration amongst scholars, digital specialists, librarians, and others. Consider who could provide useful contributions to the project. Are there students or peers who might like to get involved? Institutional partners?
- You may need access to tools with associated costs or specialists that charge for their expertise. Don't discount the time and labor involved with the creation of a digital scholarship project. Students or even part-time associates may be necessary to complete your project. There are many grant funding opportunities available for digital humanities and digital scholarship projects.
- Content management system or publishing platform:
- What content management system (CMS) or platform would be the most effective for hosting your project? Do you already know how to use the CMS, or do you need training or assistance? Are there any preliminary or ongoing costs associated with your CMS of choice? For more information on choosing a CMS and the options available to you, visit Content Management Systems.
- Digital tools needed:
- What types of digital tools will you need beyond the CMS? If you plan to incorporate visualizations, annotations, maps, timelines, databases, or other types of digital content, you will need to be able to select and use these tools. Learn more from Digital Tools.
- Space and storage:
- Where will you store your master files and data? Many CMS have limited storage space available. The Libraries may offer storage options for different uses. Your University affiliation may effect your storage options, so consider if you will continue to need to host the content over a short time period or many years.
- Good metadata, or information describing the various aspects of your project, is essential for helping users locate and access your project. How will you describe the files, pages, and other content included on your website? Some platforms, like Omeka, make it easy to incorporate metadata throughout your project.
- Copyright and permissions:
- You'll need to consider both your copyrights and the copyrights of others as you develop your product. Just because you've published your materials on the web doesn't mean that they aren't copyrighted. Consider assigning a Creative Commons license to your works to grant users specific permissions for using your works. You'll also want to carefully consider if and how you reuse the copyrighted works, including text, videos, images, etc., of others. Learn more about copyright, permissions, and licensing. If there are privacy concerns, make sure they are addressed before publishing content.
- Sustainability and Preservation:
- Your project isn't finished once it's available online. Your website will need to be maintained and updated regularly. If your hosting service relies on funds or institutional credentials, consider how you might maintain access after your initial funding expires or if you leave your institution. If you remove the website, consider archiving your site for your own or external purposes. Explore our Web Archiving page for more information.
- Consider how you will promote and share your project. You may want to share your project through relevant teaching and scholarship Listservs, a scholarship or teaching repository, or through social media.
Visualizing Objects, Places, and Spaces: A Digital Project Handbook is a great resource for those interested in creating a digital project. It offers thorough, practical guidance from planning through implementation.