MATRIX Hosts NEH-Funded Workshop on Archiving and Disseminating Born-Digital Dissertations
On Monday, August 7th, MATRIX launched a three-day workshop aimed at identifying preservation and dissemination strategies for born-digital dissertations. Generously funded by an NEH Digital Startup Grant, the workshop is organized by Liza Potts (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at MSU and Director of User Experience Design Projects at MATRIX) and Kathie Gossett (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Iowa State University)
The impetus for this workshop comes from the rising demand for born-digital dissertations and the accompanying storage and licensing systems to support them. Born-digital dissertations are scholarly research projects which incorporate interactive or dynamic digital media, such as moving images, hyperlinks, or Web pages. Being able to incorporate these types of complex media into their dissertations will allow student scholars to better explain and augment their research questions in ways that are not possible with traditional print-based media. The desire and demand for born-digital dissertations is becoming critical as areas of scholarly interest are being more significantly impacted by digital technologies. As Viginia Kuhn, a pioneer in born-digital dissertations has said, “If your research warrants it, than you can’t help but not move digitally. And really, in the twenty-first century- in a networked world- that’s getting to be more and more the case.”
The workshop is looking at ways these born-digital dissertations can be adequately archived and preserved. The workshop will begin with a landscape analysis of various content management systems and using actor-network theory to identify the necessary components, characteristics, challenges, and characters for a born-digital dissertation repository. Workshop attendees will also discuss how born-digital content can be open-sourced, a discussion that is framed around questions of access, copyright, and re-use/remixing.
The workshop’s main deliverable will be a white paper that summarizes the intellectual, pedagogic, and technological contexts for developing an open-source archive and will outline the steps necessary to produce a prototype. The white paper, which will be freely available online, will also serve as the basis for further efforts to secure funding, including future grant applications such as an NEH Digital Implementation Grant. To follow the workshop as it develops, or to contribute to the conversation, check out the Digital Dissertation Depository website or follow the workshop on Twitter #digidiss.