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Meta-Module #3: Developing Digital Projects

This "meta-module" introduces some foundational concepts, resources, and best practices for planning and developing digital scholarship projects.

Estimated Completion Time = 4 hours


  • Increased understanding of the planning process for digital scholarship projects
  • Increased familiarity with best practices for digital project management


Both individual digital scholarship practitioners and the myriad communities who support and contribute to digital projects throughout their lifecycle face a series of decisions related to planning, implementing, and sustaining digital projects. As with any project, the more thorough and thoughtful the planning process is, the more smooth the development of the project is likely to be over time. While some digital scholarship projects can be proposed and carried out within the span of a single semester or academic year, particularly small-scale projects developed as curricular components, many larger-scale digital projects can take multiple years or longer to develop.

Regardless of their scale, all digital projects are developed through multiple phases and require a concerted, collaborative effort to manage. In addition to planning for the immediate future, the long-term goals and sustainability of a project should be discussed at the outset: will the project exist in perpetuity? If so, who is responsible for supporting it, and if not, when and how should the project sunset?

In addition to this issue of sustainability,1 questions about purpose, audience, infrastructure, and ethics are central to the iterative planning process for digital scholarship projects. This module attempts to frame these questions within the context of digital scholarship support in academic libraries, but folks working in multiple institutional spaces and roles may find these resources and activities valuable.

1 Pitti, Daniel. 2004. "Designing Sustainable Projects and Publications", in A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell.


  • Skim the SSRC article on Project Planning
    Instead of (or in addition to) thinking through these planning steps for a digital project you are developing, consider what resources or knowledge you would need in order to advise a researcher through the project planning process:

    • Familiarity with particular tools or methods?
    • Knowledge of digital scholarship funding sources and the grant proposal process?
    • Understanding of user design or communication strategies for different audiences?
    • Knowledge of institutional infrastructure and local sources of expertise or funding?
  • Explore PM4DH: Project Management for the Digital Humanities

    • Read the materials created by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship on the 5 stages in the digital project lifecycle: 1. Proposal 2. Initiation 3. Planning 4. Execution 5. Closing
  • Additional Readings

  • "Meta" Questions to Consider

    • In response to the article by Burress and Rowell, what project management strategies do you currently utilize? What strategies or approaches does your team, unit, or library currently employ?
    • How might you or your library's strategies for supporting research project planning and development need to adapt in order to support digital scholarship projects, as described in these articles?
    • Across all of the steps and considerations for the various project planning and management phases described in the readings and activities, which aspects of digital project development are you currently prepared to support? Can you identify colleagues or potential partners, either within or beyond the library, who might be available to support other aspects of digital projects?
  • Short Reflection

    • Take a few minutes and try to articulate what you will take away from the readings, activities, and resources covered in this module. What is one concept that you feel you now understand better? One topic that was completely new to you? One question you would like to explore further?

Additional Resources

General web resources

Further reading

Selected library research guides

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