CIRCA:A Methodology for Archiving Digital Humanities


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A Methodology for Archiving Digital Humanities - A Research Synopsis for Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell

Jared Bielby, University Of Alberta, MA/MLIS Candidate

The following proposal, A Methodology for Archiving Digital Humanities, explores a hierarchical model towards the development of an online global centralized archiving</tt> community for Humanities Computing and Digital Humanities documents. In a similar fashion to projects such as NINES, the online scholarly organization that brings together, coordinates and digitizes nineteenth century material archives, A Methodology for Archiving Digital Humanities proposes a model for a central archive that provides a location for archiving Humanities Computing digitized peer reviewed scholarship and related literature, including newsletters, reports, conference proceeding and minutes. The project, being two tiered, will first prioritize the building of an archive of the history of Digital Humanities, including key players in the field and foundational materials. The second priority will be towards maintaining an ongoing online center for the collection of Digital Humanities archives. Using a system interface along the lines of archive projects similar to NINES’ open source Collex interface and Archive-It, the project in question will evolve by networking outwards towards a centralized global initiative in archiving the Digital Humanities.

While the goal of the project is to incorporate an open source and widely distributed forum for archiving peer reviewed Digital Humanities, it will be necessary for the initial key players to moderate the project towards addressing two main logistical concerns. Firstly, the development of a necessary process determining what types of materials should be archived, opposed to the limits of materials not archived, will be applied. Secondly, a methodology will be proposed that allows for a consensus among the wider community of scholars in the Digital Humanities field on how to collaborate in evolving the project towards its successful completion.

Initiated through the University of Alberta’s Humanities Computing department, an archive for Digital Humanities will stem from an initial collective of key players working out of the University of Alberta that through networking their contacts, reaches outward via a three stage process towards personal interaction with the Digital Humanities global-wide community. Through meetings within the scholarly community, the model will allow these key players to endeavor to bring together their colleagues, and through online and in-person meetings, work towards encompassing the entirety of scholarship within the field of Digital Humanities. By collectively communicating and sharing the disparate initiatives of various departments and scholars within the global community of Digital Humanities, the process will bring together a central collection of materials using a Collex/Archive-It based interface. In doing so, this evolving collective will gather the heterogeneous elements of the field into one accessible open source location online.

The process involves three stages, the first stage being local, the second stage being national, and the third stage being global. At each stage, a meeting will be called to determine best practices towards a centralized archiving forum. Preceding each meeting, the initial key players of the project will distribute an agenda pertaining to the development of a centralized archive that includes the topics to be discussed. The agenda will be comprised of topics that explore best practices of metadata, protocols, and typology or ontology necessary in the development of a globalized Digital Humanities online location. After the meeting, upon agreement, the minutes of the agreement will be written up and distributed via personal networking towards the next level of the wider Digital Humanities community. The process will be repeated at each stage towards the eventual activation of an archive for Digital Humanities.

Upon completion of both the second stage (national) and the third stage (global) meetings, a conference will be organized by the initial key players, of which speakers will be invited to present papers on the project in its initial and evolving process. Upon activation of the archive, scholars will be invited to organize local conferences and international symposiums to promote and educate the expanded scholarly community about the project.

While maintaining an open source model through either Collex or Archive-It, the project will endeavor to outline necessary limitations of the types of materials desired in the archive. The archive will be moderated by an editorial board of which will be initially developed by the key players of the project and maintained through annual election from within the Digital Humanities scholarly community. The ongoing mission of the editorial board will be to maintain the initial consensus on the types of material archived. As such, the board will present and maintain the following guidelines for document inclusion:

1. All scholarly material must be peer reviewed, with the exception of historical documents that may not be peer reviewed, such as newsletters, reports, and conference proceedings.

2. All material must be approved upon submission by the editorial board before being permanently archived. As such, members of the editorial board will process the official archiving after submission and approval.

The archive will incorporate an open forum for discussion of related topics and inquiries arising within the Digital Humanities community. The forum will not be limited to participating scholars but will in fact encourage participation from outside the peer-reviewed community. As such, an ongoing conversation can take place between both scholars and non-scholars as to the best practices and emerging trends within the field.


NINES: Nineteenth Century Scholarship Online. Website. Accessed March 21, 2012.

Cathy Davidson, Humanities 2.0: Promise, Perils, Predictions. Ed. Gold, Matthew K. Debates In the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. Website. Accessed March 24, 2012.

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