SUSTAINABILITY IMPLEMENTATION TOOLKIT
What do the digital humanities look like on your campus? This toolkit offers a clear set of instructions to guide you in creating a coherent institutional strategy for supporting digital humanities activities and the valuable outputs that they generate.
The Sustainability Implementation Toolkit was created with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities as part of Ithaka S+R’s report Sustaining the Digital Humanities: Host Institution Support beyond the Start-Up Phase.
A good first step in developing a plan to support DH-related work is to determine what faculty are currently doing and what they need most. Consider using one or both of the following approaches:
Survey of Faculty
The aim of the faculty survey is to assess the extent of engagement with and creation of digital resources for teaching or research. Questions address level and type of engagement with DH work, and they can be customized to ask about specific methods or tools used. The instrument also includes a section specifically for those who are creating digital projects themselves, asking where they have gone for support at different stages of work, how their work has been funded, and what challenges they still face.
Survey of Faculty Creation of Digital Content, Tools, and Infrastructure This survey will assess the different strategies in place to sustain digital humanities–related work at our institution, from solutions for preservation and storage to funding for ongoing operations and impact. This survey instrument will help us develop a snapshot of the ways in which you and other faculty are creating digital humanities resources today and the types of support you currently require. Your responses will help us better understand how the academic community use, create, invest in, and plan for the long- term support of dynamic digital resources.
Customizing and Implementing the Survey In order to deploy the survey instrument on your campus, there are several steps you will need to take. This document offers ways you might want to customize the survey instrument as well as some tips for implementing the survey on your campus.
The purpose of the interview guides is to permit you to gather in-depth information from key stakeholders on campus. When speaking with campus administrators (deans, provosts), you will want to learn where they see digital scholarship fitting within their other institutional priorities. When speaking with staff in libraries, IT groups, and other service units on campus, you will want to understand the ways in which they currently interact with faculty members at different stages of the project life cycle, and how they work with one another. When speaking with faculty members, you will have a chance to probe more deeply the topics raised in the survey, and to learn more about their ambitions for the resources they are developing and what it will take to make those resources sustainable.
INTERVIEW GUIDE: Directors of Support Units Speaking with heads of libraries, IT unit or DH centers on campus will allow you to understand more deeply how each unit views its role in supporting the creation and sustainability of digital outputs and just what that support consists of today.
INTERVIEW GUIDE: Senior Administrators Speaking directly with senior administrators will be invaluable for better understanding the senior administrator’s perspective on the value of digital scholarship and the ways in which she or he may be able or willing to support digital humanities projects.
INTERVIEW GUIDE: Digital Project Leaders Speaking directly with project leaders is the best way to understand how they have experienced building and supporting their own projects, how they engage with the support systems already in place, and what types of support they may still need. It will also help to make more clear which projects are more complex and resource- intensive, and which are most in need of support.
Armed with data from the faculty survey as well as the information gathered from interviews, you can begin the process of determining (1) whether there are any redundancies in the support being offered on campus (e.g., three different labs creating digitized collections; two units offering basic training in data visualization), and (2) whether there are any types of support that are not being offered but are within the purview of the institution’s mission or other interests.
Analyzing the Data Gathered After data have been compiled through the faculty survey, you may wish to prepare the dataset according to your information needs (suggestions of topics to focus on are below) so that it is easier to analyze using quantitative statistical programs.
Overlaps and Gaps worksheet This table provides a visual representation of overlaps and gaps in the support offered by each unit listed in the first column. The information included here would be gathered from interviews with staff members in those support units.
Once you have a clearer view of current DH-related activity on campus and what roles the various stakeholder groups have been playing, you will want to bring together people representing those groups to have a candid discussion about the current state of DH support on campus, where there seem to be weaknesses and opportunities in the existing system, and how they might develop plans to work together to develop a clear, efficient, and productive plan for supporting digital scholarship practitioners and the valuable digital resources they produce.
Hosting a Stakeholder Roundtable
A key stakeholder roundtable is a good way to share what you have learned about digital humanities resources on your campus, as a starting point for discussing institutional priorities, current organizational overlaps and gaps, and possible steps forward.
Hosting a Stakeholder Roundtable is a good way to share what you have learned about digital humanities resources on your campus, and to discuss institutional priorities, current organizational overlaps and gaps, and possible steps forward.
Stakeholder Roundtable: Presentation Template
This includes a sample PowerPoint deck that you can use to facilitate the discussion. It includes sample slides you can customize with your survey findings, and some thought-provoking discussion starters, to encourage thinking about how a new DH-strategy will best align with institutional and departmental aims.
Stakeholder Roundtable presentation template examines what faculty are doing today, what support looks like on campus, motivations and organizational models.