Introducing the Debates in DH Digital Project Index

Book cover of Debates in Digital Humanities (2012)This semester, GC librarians Steve Zweibel and Roxanne Shirazi, in collaboration with the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities, have initiated a project to help make digital scholarship more visible in library collections. We’ve begun working with Patricia Belen, a master’s student in the DH program, and Atilio Barreda Esquivel, a master’s student in the Data Visualization program, to compile a dataset of projects referenced in the Debates in the Digital Humanities book series edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein. We invite you to follow our progress through the project blog and on Twitter at @dhprojectindex.

Why an index?

Digital humanities projects are difficult to find if you don’t know where to look. There are few resources to help DH newcomers browse through exemplary digital scholarship (though if you’re interested, Reviews in Digital Humanities is a great place to start). Most scholarly digital projects are not well represented in library discovery systems despite being openly available online; integrating them with with more conventional forms of scholarship like books and journal articles may increase their use by those less familiar with DH. We also feel that the Debates in the Digital Humanities series offers rich possibilities to consider how digital humanities scholarship—and what is cited by its practitioners and theorists—has changed as the field evolves. We intend for the Debates in DH Digital Project Index to serve as both a dataset and discovery tool.

What constitutes a digital humanities project? We’re flexible at this stage and will see where the data lead us. As Patricia and Atilio progress through each volume chronologically, they are recording anything that is referenced that doesn’t fit into the category of traditional scholarly literature. Would we consider Google Books a digital humanities project? Not really, but we’re still logging it as an entity that is referenced to get a sense of the kind of evidence that these essays bring to bear in their arguments. As much as possible, we’re also noting when something is referenced as a negative citation—that is, when the author gives an example of what is not digital humanities. After the initial data collection, we’ll return to the individual projects to research further details as we refine the metadata and create preliminary visualizations.

A snapshot of the data being collected showing chapter title, author, and digital project details.

A snapshot of the data collection in progress.


The index project will be maintained on the Mina Rees Library’s GitHub page and will include:

  • dataset of digital humanities projects and citation index information
  • data dictionary
  • data visualizations
  • project website with in-process blogging by student researchers

In subsequent phases of the project, we plan to transform the dataset into MARC records, which will be made freely available for download/import/sharing. The library also intends to create OCLC records to make the project catalog records available in Worldcat and CUNY’s OneSearch discovery platform.

The first volume in the Debates in the Digital Humanities book series was released in 2012, and the series has since become a foundational resource for digital humanities scholars and practitioners. It is therefore likely to contain citations to representative digital humanities projects while offering a unique view into the evolution of digital humanities scholarship. Additional volumes were released in 2016 and 2019, as well as three topical edited volumes: Making Things and Drawing Boundaries (ed. Jentery Sayers), Bodies of Information (eds. Jacqueline Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh), and The Digital Black Atlantic (eds. Roopika Risam and Kelly Baker Josephs). The series is available online as open access Manifold Project editions.

We’re thrilled about the possible insights to be gained from recording and visualizing the digital project citations in the Debates in the Digital Humanities series and look forward to sharing more about our work. Want to learn more? Email us, we’d love to hear from you.

Steve Zweibel is Digital Scholarship Librarian and Assistant Professor at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Roxanne Shirazi is Dissertation Research Librarian and Assistant Professor at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Patricia Belen is a graphic designer, educator and student in the M.A. in Digital Humanities program at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Atilio Barreda Esquivel II is an M.S. student in Data Analysis and Visualization at the Graduate Center, adjunct lecturer at City Tech and software engineer. His research is focused on data-driven civic technology, data visualization, and indigenous technologies.


About the Author

Roxanne Shirazi is assistant professor and dissertation research librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she also serves as project director for the CUNY Digital History Archive and oversees the college’s institutional archives.