How to Evaluate a DH project
Similar to Daniel’s approach, I found myself questioning whether these DH projects I was evaluating were really DH projects or glorified humanities projects that were aided by fancy tech. This made me redefine my idea of a DH project as just that: “A Humanities Project Aided by Technology.” This then gives us a set of parameters that we can then delve into further.
1) How does the tech aid the research?
2) How feasible would the research be without the tech?
3) Does the DH project provide opportunity for more in-depth scholarship?
4) What is the scope of possibilities provided by this project?
5) What insights (thus far) has the project given? (This will change with time with a good project)
Alex’s comment about how much responsibility is on the audience touches another interesting and valuable point. Evaluating a DH project on how easily it is used by the public is like evaluating music on how many people like it. Its subjective based on a lack of knowledge rather than a plethora of it. I think it’s more worthy to evaluate the project based on the results it can produce by those trained in using the tool at it’s highest level as opposed to the lowest. It shouldn’t be compared to the ease of google or facebook.
This brings me to a question I’ve been dealing with quite a bit. I know we are in academia and evaluation is so critical for tenure and promotion, and that that is the current situation in which we are placed, but why is evaluation so important at this stage of the field? Why not let projects exist just see what we can accomplish with them? Maybe the easiest way to evaluate each project is to say “What does it want to accomplish?” and “Does it accomplish that goal?”