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Roberto Busa Prize

Overview | Recipients | Protocol

The Roberto Busa Prize is an award of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). It is named in honour of Father Roberta Busa (b. 1913), the first pioneer of humanities computing, who in 1949 began experiments in linguistic automation, with the support of the IBM offices in New York and Milan, as part of his analytical research on the writings of Thomas Aquinas. The computational work was central to the thirty years of research whose published output was the 56-volume Index Thomisticus, completed in 1980. The Busa award is given to recognise outstanding lifetime achievements in the application of information and communications technologies to humanities research. The award is given every three years, alternating with other ADHO awards, such as the Zampolli award.


The award is given triennially. The normal schedule for making the award is as follows:

  • In the year of an award, the nomination process for the following award will begin, with an announcement at the annual Digital Humanities conference at which the award is made. Over the following twelve months, the SCA will take steps to ensure that nominations are solicited in an appropriate manner.
  • In the second year after the award lecture, the SCA will review the nominations and will make its decision. The recipient will be notified and the name will be announced at the Digital Humanities conference of that year (Award year + 2).
  • In the third year, the SCA will work with the Local Organizers of the following year’s Digital Humanities conference to ensure that all the appropriate arrangements are in place for the presentation of the award and the lecture by the recipient.

The annual report of the SCA Chair to the Constituent Organization Board will include details of the progress of the award process.


The recipient is chosen by the ADHO Standing Committee on Awards (SCA). The SCA is responsible for establishing the procedures for deciding on the Award, including procedures for soliciting and receiving nominations, reviewing the nominees’ work, selecting the recipient, and writing a citation describing the achievements in recognition of which the award is given. The agreed procedures will be notified in writing to the Constituent Organization Board and to the executive committees of the ADHO Constituent Organizations. They will also be published on the ADHO website, and on the websites of the Constituent Organizations, should they so wish.


The recipient will receive prize money of approximately 1500 GBP (one thousand five hundred GB pounds), or a round number of about the same value in the currency in which the prize is to be awarded. The recipient is expected to give a public lecture, on a topic of his or her choice, at the annual international Digital Humanities conference at which the award is presented. This lecture will normally be one of the keynote or plenary lectures of the conference. The ADHO Standing Committee on Awards (SCA) will take steps to see that the lecture is published in some appropriate way, e.g. in one of the official ADHO journals. The SCA will liaise with the Local Organizer of the conference to ensure appropriate local and national publicity for the award and the lecture, e.g. a press release, press invitations, interviews and so on. Consideration should also be given to recording and podcasting the lecture. The recipient will be a guest of honour of ADHO and the Local Organizers at the conference at which the award is made and the lecture given. All travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of the award recipient will be paid by ADHO.