Sustaining Digital History: Purpose Statement

“The Web revolution isn’t simply about electronic publishing, it’s about interactive multimedia publishing”                                                                                            – The Atlantic online, “Digital Culture – The Next Dimension,” (July 1997)

“The matter won’t become clear, one way or the other, until we undertake to design and implement a working model.”                                                                                – Jerome McGann, “The Future is Digital,” (Spring 2008)

Sustaining Digital History is an eighteen-month grant-funded initiative to build a scholarly community for the practice of the emerging field of digital history by enhancing communication and collaboration among scholars and journal editors. As historians explore what historical scholarship looks like in the digital medium, it becomes imperative to design and implement well-defined examples of digital scholarship, establish best practices, and, especially, determine clear standards of peer review for tenure and promotion. Without clear guidelines, few scholars will seriously engage with the increasingly important digital medium.

We can confront this challenge through Sustaining Digital History in the following ways:

  • By collaborating directly with scholars and journal editors to develop models for identifying, peer reviewing, and disseminating article length digital scholarship
  • By publishing, featuring, or recognizing digital historical scholarship in the profession’s leading journals, to encourage historians to develop more born digital scholarship and to further encourage and assist departments in evaluating this scholarship for promotion and tenure
  • By helping authors, reviewers, and editors negotiate a difficult transition in scholarly communication by distributing a working model, by expanding the conversation, and by extending the range and form of digital history work with an eye towards mainstreaming digital historical scholarship
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