Digital Scholarship Programs in Practice

Benjamin Wiggins, Cody Hennesy, Brian Vetruba, Alexis Logsdon, Emily Janisch


Digital scholarship programs, a university unit of relatively recent origin, provide support and community for scholars integrating digital technologies into their research, teaching, and engagement work. But they have not been well defined in higher education scholarship and sometimes not even well understood on their campuses. To clarify the nature of digital scholarship programs, we surveyed what they do in practice. Using a combination of systematic searching of university websites and a survey instrument with 12 qualitative and 5 quantitative questions, we investigated the infrastructure, activities, and perceived successes and challenges of digital scholarship programs at Carnegie Classification R1: Doctoral Universities. Our study reveals that these programs exist at more than three-fourths of R1s, and their staff serve a critical function at the intersection of technology and scholarship. While our survey finds many commonalities between digital scholarship programs, such as supporting the application of research programming languages or offering professional development training, it also illustrates that these units have more heterogeneity and a broader scope than more established scholarly support units at research institutions. The degree to which we find digital scholarship programs already representing interunit partnerships and striving for even more collaboration illustrates increased cooperation and a will for further coordination in the face of a culture of internal competition under academic capitalism. Digital scholarship programs’ partnership structures offer higher education a model for building bridges between organizational silos in a fashion that respects the autonomy and distinctiveness of individual units, reduces internal competition, and offers user-centered scholarly support. 


Digital Scholarship; Digital Scholarship Programs; Universities

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Copyright Benjamin Wiggins, Cody Hennesy, Brian Vetruba, Alexis Logsdon, Emily Janisch

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