Sustainability Implementation Toolkit
Developing an Institutional Strategy for Supporting Digital Humanities Resources

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What do the digital humanities look like on your campus? What types of projects are your faculty undertaking? Which will require longer-term support, and where will that support come from? What roles do your service units, centers, and digital labs play in the various life-cycle stages, and is this clear to faculty? This toolkit will help administrators create a coherent institutional strategy for supporting digital humanities activities and the valuable outputs that they generate.To get started, follow the three steps below.

  • Step 1 will help you evaluate who on your campus is creating digital projects, the problems they are facing, and where they are finding help now.
  • Step 2 offers a framework to analyze where there are overlaps and gaps in the services offered by various units on campus, for all stages of the digital project lifecycle.
  • Step 3 provides tools to facilitate meetings with key stakeholders to develop plans to support faculty and their digital research projects in a way that is in line with campus mission and priorities.
  • Step 1: Assess the Landscape
  • Step 2: Identify Overlaps and Gaps
  • Step 3: Discuss and Address Institutional Priorities

The toolkit will help you:

  • Understand all of the stages in the digital lifecycle of a project, from project planning to preservation and outreach.
  • Assess the range of project types and complexity, so that your solution can include both scale solutions and customized support where it is needed.
  • Clearly communicate the paths of support to campus faculty.
  • Articulate institutional expectations for project leaders.
  • Obtain the commitment of key stakeholders.

Additional resources

Step 1: Assess the Landscape

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.

Interview guides

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.

Step 2: Identify Overlaps and Gaps

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.

Step 3: Discuss and Address Institutional Priorities

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.

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.

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