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Increase Your Scholarly Impact

A self-service guide to help you increase your scholarly impact, provided by the Libraries' Scholarly Impact Service (SIS).

Digital Scholarship Metrics Defined

The Modern Language Association describes the use of digital media in scholarship as transformative, and guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship should account for the various forms, networks, and literacies demanded by their use. 

Per the MLA Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media: "Digital media have expanded the objects and forms of inquiry of modern language departments to include images, sounds, data, kinetic attributes like animation, and new kinds of engagement with textual representation and analysis. These innovations have considerably broadened notions of language, language teaching, text, textual studies, and literary and media objects, the traditional purview of modern language departments." 

Recommended metrics

Evaluating Digital Scholarship (MLA Committee on Information Technology)

The publication Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy has assembled a list of resources that include professional organization guides for digital scholarship, and collected Institutional Tenure and Promotion Guidelines. [Note: some of these links are no longer active]

Describing Your Project

Although digital scholarship will have a number of metrics associated with it through the affordances of the online platform, communicating its impact will require a descriptive contextualization of how its qualities meet standards of scholarly rigor. For example, The Journal of American History recently expanded to include reviews of digital history projects, and the information below comes from their review guidellines. While the nature of digital scholarship blurs traditional categories of research, it can be helpful to think of a digital project through the categories below. 

Per the Journal of American History:

  • Archive: a site that provides a body of primary sources. Could also include collections of documents marked up in TEI or databases of materials.
  • Essay, Exhibit, Digital Narrative: something created or written specifically for the Web or with digital methods, that serves as a secondary source for interpreting the past by offering a historical narrative or argument. This category can also include maps, network visualizations, or other ways of representing historical data.
  • Teaching Resource: a site that provides online assignments, syllabi, other resources specifically geared toward using the Web, or digital apps for teaching, including educational history content for children or adults, pedagogical training tools, and outreach to the education community.
  • Tool: a downloadable, plugin, app, or online service that provides functionality related to creating, accessing, aggregating, or editing digital history content (rather than the content itself).
  • Gateway/Clearinghouse: a site that provides access to other websites or Internet-based resources.
  • Journal/Blog/Publication: any type of online publication.
  • Professional/Institutional Site: a site devoted to sharing information on a particular organization.
  • Digital Community: online social spaces that offer a virtual space for people to gather around a common experience, exhibition, or interest.
  • Podcasts: video and audio podcasts that engage audiences on historical topics and themes.
  • Audio/Application-based Tours: downloadable walking, car, or museum tours.
  • Games: challenging interactive activities that educate through competition or role playing, finding evidence defined by rules and linked to a specific outcome. Games can be online, peer-to- peer, or mobile.
  • Data sets, APIs: compilations of machine-readable data, shared in a commonly-accessible format, possibly through a CSV file or an Application Programming Interface (API), or data files, that allow others to make use of this data in their own digital history work.

While the categories can be helpful for clarifying the shape of your digital scholarship, the areas can be useful for thinking how you can more fully describe it in terms of scholarly rigor.

Per the Journal of American History:

  • Content: Is the scholarship sound and current? What is the interpretative point of view? How well is the content communicated to users?
  • Design: Does the information architecture clearly communicate what a user can find in the site? Does the structure make it easy for a user to navigate through the site? Do all of the sections of the project function as expected? Does it have a clear, effective, and original design? How accessible is the site for individuals of all abilities? If it is a website, is it responsive (i.e., tablet/mobile-friendly)?
  • Audience: Is the project directed at a clear audience? How well does the project address the needs of that audience?
  • Digital Media: Does it make effective use of digital media and new technology? Does it do something that could not be done in other media—print, exhibition, film?
  • Creators: Many digital projects include multiple contributors. Who worked on this project and in what capacity?

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