Digital Scholarship Programs in Practice

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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 web-sites 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 scholar-ship. While our survey finds many commonalities between digital scholarship pro-grams, 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 au-tonomy and distinctiveness of individual units, reduces internal competition, and offers user-centered scholarly support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-592
Number of pages25
JournalCollege and Research Libraries
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Although digital scholarship services and activities are funded via a myriad of ways, the library’s operating budget is by far the most prevalent source. Ninety percent of respondents selected the library’s general budget in Bryson et al.18 and, similarly, 100 percent did in Mulligan.19 Sixteen of the 71 respondents (23%) also noted a designated digital scholarship budget in Mulligan.20 More than 70 percent of respondents noted grant funding to the library as a funding source.21 Zorich noted that many digital humanities centers are considering establishing endowments as a means for more stable funding. Twenty-two percent of centers have endowments in place.22 Mulligan corroborated this trend, with 25 percent of respondents selecting endowments as a funding source.23A decrease in financial support for digital scholarship services and activities among academic departments is also evident in the literature. Whereas Bryson et al. found that 50 percent of the digital scholarship and digital humanities programs received funding from academic departments,24 this amount decreased to 18 percent, according to Mulligan. However, support from the university is still significant, as 27 percent of digital scholarship programs receive funding from central university funds.25

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Benja-min Wiggins, Cody Hennesy, Brian Vetruba, Alexis Logsdon, and Emily Janisch.


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