Guidelines for Evaluating Digital History Scholarship

Reviewers should be named so they can be held responsible. The process should be open to anybody.  Everybody has their own perspective so it is better to get as many perspectives as you can.  Reviewer’s comments should not be moderated because the author does not need to listen to everybody’s.  Also if you did moderate content, how would you pick the moderators?  In many respects the guidelines for reviewing digital material are the same as printed material.  Please see below for some questions reviewers should ask.

  • How effectively does work utilize its source material?
  • What is its contribution to scholarship?
  • Who is audience for this work?
  • What are strong and week points?
  • Does author effectively prove their argument?
  • What is goal of the project?
  • Is this a worthy goal?
  • How do they use technology to meat this goal?
  • How well did their content meet their goal?


It was interesting to see that even though open access review is a very different system it still has the same goals and same questions as a regular review. It is also interesting that digital history can have multiple project types using many different technologies. This should lead reviewers to think of the goal and to ponder whether it is a worthy goal or not, instead of just rejecting something because it is in a new medium. I also wondered if these varying mediums create more specialized field.  In NEH grants you have to write towards general non professional audience.  However, isn’t it better to have a person who knows technology doing the review because part of the evaluation needs to be on how well the person used the technology to meet their goal.  On the other hand if you are having only people reviewing work in their own specialized areas does this create too much small groups and lose the bigger picture?


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