About THL > Participation & Support > Scholarly Participation in THL > How Is Participation Credited?
The rise of new digital technologies has sparked a transformation in the Academy over the past decade. Changes involve the types of intellectual activities and products that faculty produce and methods of dissemination. Although some still do focus on the mere presence of technology as if the method is of value in and of itself, the more significant development is the new types of products, activities, and relationships that are engendered by these new technologies. It is important that leaders of this transformation are not penalized due to inadequate mechanisms for credit, rewards, and promotion. THL is thus committed to helping ensure that the appropriate academic credit is obtained by its participants to assist in their searches for jobs, tenure, and promotion. THL submissions are rigorously peer-reviewed – as documented on this page – and can be used as a basis for tenure and promotion for those in academic positions. In addition to promotion, individuals and institutions are rightly concerned with due credit and "branding," so that contributions are credited in a clear and high-profile way to their creators. Copyright is an issue of increasing concern as the Web makes intellectual property theft easier.
Peer review, credit, and copyright are three interlinked issues vital to ensuring high-quality submissions and a high level of participation by the scholarly community. The present document outlines our current strategies for dealing with issues and we welcome suggestions or other resources to cite in this regards (contact us at ).
Scholarly credit and attribution. Every single item contributed to THL, down to a single image or a single paragraph of text, is individually credited to its creator. Larger submissions such as full essays and projects are prominently attributed to their creators at all points. Collaboration and synergy does not mean that the individual scholar's credit vanishes into an amorphous resource. Rather, credit for ever item, large or small, basic data or interpretative study, is maintained rigorously. In addition, THL is now creating special participant home pages that provide a centralized hyperlinked list of each participant's work within THL.
Credit and reports. Every resource in THL has easily accessible information specifying the creator of that resource, whether it is an essay, photograph, map, audio-video, or dictionary entry. For essays, this information is clearly presented at the top of every page. For complex repositories of many independently authored pieces of information – such as the dictionary or gazetteer – the information is not displayed up front, but it is immediately accessible with a single click. In addition, major initiatives can have their own independent pages documenting and accessing their work. Projects hosted by specific institutions also are clearly branded with that institution's name, and, if desired, logo, on their home pages.
We are now working on an annual “THL Participant Report” to be implemented in 2005 which would formally credit contributors with their work on different fronts. This may be difficult to maintain in terms of the workload, but we believe it is important to work towards this goal so that academic contributors have a formal report they can submit to their promotion review boards. Our current thought is to produce a report that categorizes submitted work for a given individual in the following way:
- Other essays
- Dictionary submissions
- Gazetteer submissions
- Bibliographical submissions
- Editions of texts
- Instructional units
- Administrative work: participation on committees, leading projects, etc.
- Software design
- Documentation work
Institutional credit and branding. THL aims to be a consortium-brand that sits side-by-side with branding from the participating institutions. All projects which have a primary institutional host or sponsor are clearly presented on their home pages as such. We are also in the process of creating an Institutional section of THL where participating institutions can describe synoptically their work and collections within THL, including direct hyperlinks to those areas of THL for which they are responsible. In addition, THL is now creating special Participant Institutional home pages that provide a centralized hyperlinked list of each Institution's work within THL.
Issues of promotion and tenure. In terms of academic recognition of the value and nature of such participation, intellectual products and activities are now taking new forms, and we need to ensure that quality work is not being neglected simply because its format and dissemination is not via traditional print media. It is important to keep in mind that these new types of products and activities are dependent upon methods linked to digital technology, but are important for their intellectual and communal value as such. In other words, it is the achievements that are essential, not the methods.
New types of intellectual products and activities are emerging with the rise of humanities computing. However, administrators and fellow scholars must realize that these too can be of the highest quality, and yet because of their innovative nature and structure they may not be adequately assessed by previous standards.
The following are distinct areas where we have noticed important changes, and which we list to provide a sense of the scope of transformations we have in mind:
- collaborative multi-authored work
- interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary work, such that faculty in a given department may often be working on topics and with partners from outside the disciplinary boundaries of his/her own department
- working across institutional boundaries, ranging to national and international levels
- administering projects, including editing journals but extending to new complex projects using digital technology
- building new technical solutions for research and teaching, whether these are innovative models or actual implemented systems/tools
- using technology in teaching, but with a focus on the creation of new teaching resources used more broadly in one's own institution and at other institutions, whether those resources are actual content, innovative pedagogical models, and/or actual technological systems or tools for facilitating teaching
- new types of written products, such as documentation of teaching, general introductions to areas, documentation of technology and its uses, and granular contributions to large reference resources such as dictionaries, gazetteers, etc.
Traditionally, promotion and tenure committees use the criteria of academic excellence and significance across three broad categories: teaching, service, and research/scholarship/creative works. At a major research university, regardless of official statements, it is clear that this is a ranked hierarchy: research first and foremost, then teaching, and finally at the bottom comes services. The problem is what the committees recognize as "excellence." We would suggest that the broadest category should be reputation, recognition, or contribution to or within academic circles. Instead of traditional exclusive focus on content, we would offer a fourfold classification: content, models, tools, and facilitation. Such a fourfold classification applies equally to each of the traditional three domains of teaching, research, and service.
Research universities will never redefine the importance of service, so it is up to us to offer redefinitions of research and teaching to embrace new activities facilitated by the rise of new information technologies. Original contributions to knowledge are the main yardstick of research in assessing an individual scholar's work. in the humanities and social sciences, we are seeing the rise of multi-disciplinary collaborative teams and these types of participation need to be recognized and acknowledged. Scholarly impact is a good example. Many promotion and tenure guidelines point to the need to demonstrate and document the response from the scholarly community to a faculty member's work as well as its influence on the field.
Finally, one of the central issues is maintaining peer review. There is the perception that web publication is somehow easier than print publication, and this supposed ease is associated with a lack of standards and review process. However, the truth is that high-quality web publications require institutional backing and labor, such that it is only the dissemination that is relatively inexpensive compared to print dissemination. Either way, there is no reason web publications cannot be peer reviewed and controlled in terms of quality to the same extent as traditional print publications. THL, as outlined above, is setting up such standard review practices. It is clear that universities and colleges are making a rapid transition to accommodate these new developments, and that digital publications are increasingly viewed as valid when associated with well-known institutional brands and peer review.