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Meta-Module #5: Digital Publishing

This "meta-module" introduces a range of digital publishing platforms and approaches, including multimodal content management systems (CMS), static site creation, minimal computing, and innovative publishing platforms created by university presses.

Estimated Completion Time = 4 hours


  • Increased familiarity with a variety of multimodal publishing platforms created by both university presses and other non-profit centers
  • Improved understanding of the affordances and limitations of different digital publishing platforms and approaches


The past several decades have seen a proliferation of online publishing platforms which have begun to transform the world of scholarly communication. A vast amount of digital and public-facing scholarship is now shared online via static websites, content management systems, and more recently, interactive publishing platforms hosted by university presses. This module is designed to provide a high-level overview of a range of publishing platforms and approaches to sharing scholarly content online in innovative and often interactive formats.

The focus of this module is comparative - looking broadly at a variety of tools and considering their affordances and limitations for sharing both born-digital and more traditional (long-form, text-focused) scholarship openly online. Examples of digital projects hosted using these platforms are included along with tutorials in "Additional Resources", but the emphasis throughout the following readings and activities is on gaining a general understanding of how and why digital humanists, librarians, and other scholars are using these different platforms to share their work.

Some of the platforms and technologies discussed include Scalar, WordPress, Omeka, Mukurtu, GitHub Pages, Jekyll, and several university press platforms. (Omeka is directly and more expansively addressed in Meta-Module #2: Working with Digital Collections). Many additional platforms exist which are not discussed here, such as Pressbooks and PubPub, and platforms specifically designed for publishing open educational resources (OER) and open textbooks also lie outside the scope of this module.


  • Complete SSRC Module 11: Trends in Scholarly Communication

  • Additional Readings

  • Explore and evaluate three university press platforms
    Take a few minutes to read the "About" pages for these platforms and explore 1-2 publications hosted on each of them.

    • Manifold Scholarship (University of Minnesota Press and CUNY Graduate Center)
    • RavenSpace (University of British Columbia Press and University of Washington Press)
    • Fulcrum (University of Michigan Library and Press, with partners at Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Penn State)

    As you read about each of these platforms, consider the following questions:

    • Who has access to materials published through this platform (who are its audiences)?
    • Who has the ability to publish through this platform (who are its authors)?
    • How does this platform allow authors to integrate multimedia, datasets, or other non-textual components?
  • "Meta" Questions to Consider

    • Thinking about the various publishing platforms you have encountered during this module, what are some of the affordances of each for different modes of storytelling or scholarly communication? Are some better for short-form versus long-form text? How do they allow authors to incorporate multimedia, datasets, or other interactive, multimodal components into their narratives?
    • Given the development of so many open-source content management systems and publishing platforms, what role do you think academic libraries might play in helping scholars navigate this changing publishing landscape?
    • How have your explorations of these platforms informed your understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to publishing a digital monograph or creating a digital project web interface?
    • What are some of the benefits or drawbacks of minimal computing in comparison to university press platforms and self-hosted CMS sites? How does a minimal computing approach address issues of preservation and sustainability? How do the university press platforms address those issues?
  • 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

Minimal Computing

Web Publishing Tutorials

Example Project Sites

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