Digital scholarship in its current form can be a deeply collaborative and networked enterprise, one which—in its various forms—involves multiple practitioners from a variety of academic contexts. Guided by a number of interrelated questions, we hope to interrogate this emergent landscape of scholarly production:
Pragmatically, we hope to use this working group to promulgate evaluative standards and guidelines for faculty, administrators, students, and staff working within and around digital scholarship. In this we build on the robust foundation developed by the Modern Language Association, whose efforts in various workshops, publications, and committees have begun these conversations. The MLA Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media—themselves the culmination of several years’ work on the topic— recognises, for example, that digital scholarly practitioners “engage in collaborative work” far more often than their non-digital counterparts, but stops short of recommending specific frameworks of evaluation. Compounding the difficulties inherent in formally evaluating digital research is the collaborative involvement of students, graduate researchers, library staff, etc. The struggle for evaluators is not limited to form (archive, blog post, database, source code) but also encompasses disciplinary norms and shared authorship practices. We hope to blend these two concerns—digital scholarship as form and digital scholarship as collaborative process—to discuss and share guidelines that address credit, mentorship frameworks, and scholarly merit for digital work.
In a theoretical sense, we hope to confront the emergent body of evidence and scholarly products that indicate a qualitative change in how knowledge is produced in a networked age. By this we mean the shift from single-author, long-form prose research (especially in the humanities) to distributed models of intellectual production that intersect with social media connectivity, digital facilitated coauthorship, and well-defined and traceable patterns of intellectual contribution. Social knowledge creation is quickly becoming a fact of life digital scholarship.