Just noticed an article from February’s issue of the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, announcing the formation of the organization’s ad hoc Committee on Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship. Sure, “Making Something Out of Bupkis” is a good title for an article in a professional journal, but more importantly, James Grossman and Seth Denbo here address some of the issues we (I?) raised in Domain of One’s Own regarding the value of digital scholarship–and our concerns about what it contributes to our professional advancement. I think many of us can agree on its value for our professional development, but with the lack of standards in assessing/evaluating that work, I, for one, currently feel more comfortable investing my time and energy in more traditional formats.
The AHA’s stance here is that the lack of standards, and consequent wariness, “robs our discipline of innovative energy…marginalizes scholars who do take the risks…impedes the development of genres that can contribute even more…[and] contributes to a culture that discourages the kinds of collaborative work that are valued–in some cases required–in nearly all other venues of creative enterprise.” To address those concerns, the committee has been tasked with developing guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship and engagement–including publication, collaborative work, public engagement, and teaching.
I think this is a great development, and I am thrilled that the AHA is actively working on issues like these–and that, as we’ve progressed through the DoOOFI, I’m more conversant in these issues.