Skip to content

Information Practices in International, Collaborative, Publicly-Funded, Data-Driven Digital Humanities Projects

Path-breaking in theory and practice, digital humanities (DH) not only secures a larger public audience for humanities and social sciences research, but also permits researchers to ask novel questions and to revisit familiar ones. Publicly-funded, interdisciplinary, distributed, and collaborative research programs in digital humanities explore new methods, further institutional research missions, and produce data and tools that enrich globally networked knowledge. The Digging into Data Challenge (DID) is one such initiative.

Launched in 2009, DID’s international founders (The National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Joint Information Systems Committee, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) foregrounded data-driven computational research in the social sciences and humanities. They have granted $21.1 million dollars to 50 projects over four challenges, each two years in duration. Scholars from the humanities, social sciences, computer sciences, library science, archival science, information sciences, mathematical and statistical sciences, and engineering have all participated. Key outputs include code, algorithms, digital tools, data sets, White Papers and other reports, scholarly publications, research notes, and websites. Funders mandated that such outputs be made openly accessible and by extension, reusable.

In this webinar, we examine five areas of information dynamics that animate Round 3 of Digging into Data (DID3) (2014-2016) that involved four nations, ten funders, and fourteen projects. Our topics include, first, the value of librarians’ and archivists’ skills in data-driven research; second, the grant’s project management requirement versus researchers’ actual implementation of work plans; third, mechanisms of scholarly collaborative and interdisciplinary work; fourth, the interplay of pedagogy and researcher skills on projects; and finally, the funders’ data management requirement, the most challenging hurdle researchers encountered. We recommend the involvement of information professionals at once to enhance collaboration among researchers, provide structure for outcome sustainability, and improve project accountability in the use of public funds.


Alex Poole is an assistant Professor at Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics, Alex H. Poole received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Poole’s research and teaching interests center on archives and records management, digital curation, digital humanities, and diversity and inclusivity. His work has been published in The Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Digital Humanities Quarterly, The American Archivist, Archival Science, The Journal of Documentation, The International Journal of Information Management, and Information & Culture: A Journal of History; it is forthcoming in The Library Quarterly. He received the Dr. Bob Williams History Fund Research Paper Award from the Association for Information Science and Technology for “’Could my dark hands break through the dark shadow?’ Gender, Jim Crow, and Librarianship during the Long Freedom Struggle, 1935-1955,” and the Theodore Calvin Pease Award from the Society of American Archivists for “The Strange Career of Jim Crow Archives: Race, Space, and History in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South.” He earned a diploma from Loomis Chaffee School (cum laude), a B.A. from Williams College (Highest Honors, History), an M.A. from Brown University (History), and an MLIS (Beta Phi Mu) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Deborah A. Garwood is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Information Science at Drexel University. An affiliate of Drexel’s Metadata Research Center, she is also a Research Assistant whose interests center on Digital Curation and Metadata. Papers on interdisciplinary, data-driven research, co-authored with advisor Alex Poole, have been published in The Journal of Documentation and The International Journal of Information Management. In 2016 Ms. Garwood presented research on microformats at the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications in Copenhagen, Denmark. She holds a Master of Science degree in Library & Information Science from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College, New York, NY, and a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH.