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I recently came across this article, which describes the challenges that digital humanist scholars face when applying for tenure:

According to a new series of essays by prominent digital humanists, commissioned by the MLA journal Profession and made freely available in advance of this week’s convention, humanities disciplines have acknowledged (to the point of redundancy) the need for a system for evaluating professors whose output is nontraditional and erected on the strange soil of the digital landscape.

But practical change has come more slowly. While the work of digital humanists increasingly is seen as indispensable, it also remains impenetrable to most of their colleagues who sit on tenure committees, say the Profession essayists.

The article goes on to affirm that aside from the lack of methodology that exists for evaluating digital humanists, a major problem lies in the fluid nature of digital scholarship, in itself: when something is published online, it can be continuously edited, and therefore is never truly "finished." 

With this article in mind, I would like to raise the following questions: How do you think university faculty will approach this issue of granting tenure for digital humanists?  Will such a lack of methodology prove to be a barrier for digital humanists looking to occupy a greater space in "mainstream" academia?  Or, contrarily, will the need for methodology to evaluate digital humanists only work to expedite the growth (and mainstream acceptance) of the digital humanities?  

1 Comment

  1. There has been a great deal written about this topic. People may want to get their feet wet by reading this recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education- and the long string of comments it has been attracting.

    In discussions of digital technology's impact on publishing, academia, and tenure, a number of issues tend to get bundled together, as they do in Olson's article: e.g., the question of quality assurance (peer review), the current state of the academic job market, the relevance of the humanities as a social enterprise, and the impact of new methods of publication and distribution on cognition.