Digital Humanities Quarterly, 2006 Annual Report

During its first year, DHQ completed the following steps towards launching the journal:

  • recruited the editorial and advisory teams
  • developed a web site for the journal
  • developed a TEI-based schema for authoring and editing
  • developed a set of protocols for reviewing and evaluating journal submissions
  • recruited a team of reviewers
  • developed an initial submission and workflow management system
  • issued regular calls for submissions and began the review process

The following activities are under way and approaching completion:

  • development of the underlying publication system, using OpenCMS, XSLT, and other open-source tools
  • development of more fully automated submission and workflow management system

The following activities were begun and are under way:

  • developing a plan for handling multilingualism, as part of ADHO’s larger strategy in this area
  • developing interface features for experimental viewing and visualization

As of July 2006, DHQ has nearly finished developing the technical infrastructure for publication, and has received a number of submissions which are now completing their review and revision process. We anticipate publishing our first issue during the fall of this year.

Financial

The accompanying spreadsheet shows the financial details of the journal’s operation for the 2006 fiscal year. Partly because the funding for the journal was not determined until the end of the year, most of the journal’s work in the first year was accomplished on a volunteer basis. In addition, incoming submissions for the first year were less numerous than initially projected, so the Managing Editor’s time was less significant than projected and no copyediting was needed.

ACH allocated $3500 in startup funding for the first year, of which $615 was spent; the remainder will be carried forward into 2007. The journal benefited from considerable donated effort and materials in 2006. We include in this category paid effort by people other than the editorial staff, contributed by an institution, and also contributed resources and materials such as brochures, advertising space, and the like. Donated effort and materials for 2006 include:

  • Indiana University: graphic design for the DHQ web site (Michelle Dalmau), printing costs for DHQ brochures
  • LLC: advertising space
  • University of Illinois: technical development (Amit Kumar)
  • Brown University: graphic design for LLC advertisement

Narrative

In the year since the inception of Digital Humanities Quarterly, a great deal of work has been done to establish the journal's essential frameworks and personnel. During the first six months, we recruited the journal's editorial and advisory teams, developed basic data models for the journal's content and protocols for submissions and reviewing, and arrived at an overall plan for the journal's scope, format, and strategy. In the second half of our first year, we have focused on developing a web site (http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/) for the journal and developing a publication infrastructure for it, and have also begun recruiting submissions and sending them through the review process. We have also worked with the editors of LLC to develop protocols for the cooperative interactions between the two journals, and have established the financial model upon which the journal will be supported. We have begun discussions of how to handle the journal's multilingual dimensions, and of how to encourage the development of experimental tools and interface features by members of the digital humanities community.

We have met a number of challenges during our first year, both technical and social. The technical challenges reflect the complexity of the undertaking: this journal is experimental in almost every way, and is being held to a high standard both of quality and of originality. One of the most difficult issues has been developing a set of schemas for authoring, editing, and publishing the journal's content that are both consistent with current standards such as the TEI, and also well adapted to the innovative kinds of document models the journal seeks to explore. Another related issue has been to develop a model of interaction with the journal's content that goes beyond a simple reading model towards more complex and challenging modes of searching and viewing. We have had to look ahead to a time when the journal will constitute a broad and rich archive of research in the range of digital humanities disciplines, and try to imagine how that material could be examined and analysed.

The social challenges have been no less significant. Starting a new journal always entails a bootstrapping process of convincing authors to take the risk of entrusting their work to an untested and unknown publication, while relying on high-quality submissions on which to start building a track record. In the case of a digital journal, the obstacles are all the greater: there is still widespread uncertainty in many humanities disciplines concerning the value of digital publications for purposes of tenure and promotion, and there are also a number of practical concerns involving the long-term archiving and accessibility of the journal's content. But in addition, DHQ's editors have taken seriously the question of the journal's distinctive role: not as the journal of record for the digital humanities community—a role which is already well filled by LLC—but rather as the visible public face of that community to the outside world, and as the porous boundary through which new readers and authors may be attracted to the field. The journal also has a special mission to exploit its distinctively digital potential. To fulfill that role, we have been committed to publishing a wider variety of materials (including multimedia pieces, editorials, software reviews, even blogs), which raise issues about peer review processes and readerly expectations.

DHQ has been very fortunate in a number of respects: we have attracted an extraordinary team of editors and advisors, whose confidence in the journal's promise has given us a great initial boost. We have also benefited greatly from the enthusiasm and support of the digital humanities community, whose advice, volunteer work, and general encouragement has made a huge difference. Finally, we are extremely grateful to the editors of LLC, who from the start have approached the launch of DHQ in an immensely collegial spirit and have given DHQ concrete help in a number of important ways.