New Report Reviews Successful Global Digital Scholarship Programs

report coverA new report from Dean and University Librarian Xuemao Wang sheds light on the expertise required to support a robust and sustainable digital scholarship program.

In late 2012, the University of Cincinnati Libraries was awarded a Scholarly Communications and Information Technology Program planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to define and describe the key skills and competencies required to support a robust digital scholarship program. The project’s findings have now been published in a report titled “Building Expertise to Support Digital Scholarship: A Global Perspective.”

Digital scholarship (DS) is defined very broadly as the creation, production, analysis and or dissemination of scholarship using new technologies with emphasis on non-traditional, digital and computational techniques. DS encompasses both the creation of research content and tools. DS can be found across disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

Over the past two and a half years, the project researchers conducted interviews with key faculty, administrators, librarians and technologists engaged in DS at 10 locations both in the U.S. and abroad, including in China, India, Taiwan, Mexico, Germany and England. They identified “best in class” DS programs and determined through site visits and interviews the key workforce-related factors associated with those centers’ success, always with an eye to continuous improvement and shared learning. 

Available online at, the project report details the methods the team used to gather information, the questions asked, as well as the challenges and study limitations they faced. The report describes the characteristics of organizations with thriving DS programs including an open and collaborative culture, international engagement, entrepreneurial ethos, an emphasis in teaching and learning, and proper facilities. In addition, the report explores DS expertise in a global context by examining the tradition of digital scholarship, various funding models, and the role of research libraries and campus computing in DS initiatives.

“We hope that our project will contribute to the development of effective DS both globally as well as at our own institutions including here at UC,” said Xuemao Wang, dean and university librarian and principal investigator on the project. “Digital humanities/digital scholarship, which includes efforts in digital humanities, research data management, digital repositories, born-digital archives management and long-term digital assets preservation, are core components of UC Libraries’ current Strategic Plan.”

The project was a joint initiative and collaboration with co-investigators Vivian Lewis, university librarian of McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada); Lisa Spiro, executive director of Digital Scholarship Services at Rice University’s Fondren Library; and Jon E. Cawthorne, dean of West Virginia University Libraries.