Digital Humanities research culture


Digital Humanities covers a broad and highly interdisciplinary field. It is rooted in humanities at large and at the same time linked to a wide range of scholarly fields including (but not limited to) disciplines such as linguistics, literature, history, archaeology and media studies. Cooperation with the fields of computer science, data science, and social sciences plays a crucial role in the development of methods. There is no single research school or institute responsible for shaping the domain. However, important partners in defining the domain of digital humanities are CLARIAH, eHumanities.nl, and the DH BeNeLux Steering Committee.


Target groups

Beyond (inter)national scholarly communities and networks, scholars in the Digital Humanities collaborate closely with professionals in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector. These connections can take the form of alliances that focus on digitising and making accessible of materials and data.  Collaboration with industry takes place through joint projects and traineeships. Especially with regard to the data science sector, this collaboration places added value on the development of skills for data analysis tasks. Target groups are reached through expert contributions to political discussions, books, newspapers, essays, blogs, and participation in public debates.


Products and communication

International publications are primarily in English, but multilingualism is a distinguishing feature of the international DH community and reflected in the language policy of its key conferences (such as ADHO and DHBenelux). Academic publications appear both in international journals and in the form of contributions to conference proceedings. Review processes are highly important in the context of (international) publications, usually in the form of peer review. The rigorous peer review process, particularly those of international publications and conferences, ensures high quality of the research outputs from digital humanities. In addition to publications in journals and conference proceedings, scholars in the digital humanities rely on platforms such as (but not limited to) ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Eurographics, Smart Heritage, and Github as well as research project websites and personal blogs as means of communication and feedback.

Also, databases and digital products - for example, analysis software, virtual research environments, and enhanced publications - play a major role. Enhanced publications are often hybrid in nature and target both academic readers and a broad group of interested professional or general users. Similarly, analysis software and methods, preferably made available in open-source, have high value for both academic and non-academic users.

            Another important activity in Digital Humanities is capacity-building: training new generations of scholars, especially PhDs and post-docs, in the epistemology and techniques of digital humanities. These activities are specifically noted here because they are very close to cutting-edge research and are not usually part of mainstream teaching. They require-high level, senior researchers who invest time and expertise in developing these activities in the form of workshops, summer schools, and advanced seminars.


Processes and strategies

Both co-authored and single-authored publications are common to the Digital Humanities.  Co-authored publications can involve collaboration among several fields of expertise including domain experts and methodological experts. Multi-authored publications tend to be more common in the Digital Humanities than in the humanities proper because of the project-based and interdisciplinary work they reflect on or present. These collaborations often go beyond co-authoring publications and include (the organisation of) workshops and the development of software, models, repositories, and databases.


Domain-specific aspects of quality and relevance

Technical products and resources of DH include databases, research files, software, and methods, virtual research environments and other digital platforms (including audio-visual essays, data visualisations, and (3D) models) and enhanced publications. The topics of Open Access and licensing are of crucial importance in assessing the quality of these products and resources. At the same time, the review process of scholarly articles may pose challenges due to the hybrid / multidisciplinary nature of the research. For instance, publications can contain both lines of code and an analysis in the form of a (hermeneutical) narrative, both of which need to be critically assessed by experts.[1] Benchmarks are continually being developed to assess the quality of digital products and to improve approaches and methods. Their development and implementation remain challenging as they cannot be directly adapted from other domains, such as computer science. Infrastructures such as CLARIAH/CLARIN, DANS and the Netherlands eScience Center provide assistance in centralizing the storage and evaluation of products, resources, and benchmarks. 

The domain panel has identified specific authorized indicators for conferences and platforms. These are operationalized in the list at the bottom of this webpage. 


Relevance of indicators for products

The Digital Humanities panel has authorised various publication channels for journals and books that are DH-specific (see list below). The publication channels included in the list put together by the panel have been selected because they reflect the diversity of the formats discussed in the sections above. The multidisciplinary nature of this domain means that indicators authorised by other panels are also relevant and can therefore be taken into account, for which reason there are several overlaps with other lists. Moreover, the methodology of the field is constantly in flux as new tools and methods are developed, resulting in the emergence of new publication channels, which include workshops and (bi-)annual conferences. Link to lists


Relevance of quantitative indicators for use and marks of recognition

For research conducted in the Digital Humanities that is published in indexed journals, bibliometric indicators such as citation and Google Scholar analyses may be useful. Also, a large part of DH research is published as scholarly articles in conference proceedings. These proceedings contribute to bibliometric indicators and the calculation of impact factors.

Many of the other publication channels are not indexed, however, and the reference practices within those channels are too diverse to be useful. For enhanced publications and digital platforms, indicators from altmetric.com may be relevant. Furthermore, indicators from blogs, which serve as another valuable outlet for research dissemination, cannot be feasibly obtained.


Specific authorized indicators



1. Congress Virtual Heritage CHNT (http://www.chnt.at)

2. 3D-ARCH ISPRS Series (http://www.3d-arch.org/)

3. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology CAA (http://caaconference.org/)

5. Congress Visual Heritage: (http://www.chnt.at/topic/)

6. Geo-BIM Conference (http://geo-bim.org/europe/)



1. Digital Cultural Heritage Transnational Platform (https://smartheritage.com)

2. Sociedad Espagnola de Archqueología Virtual (http://www.arqueologiavirtual.com/)

3. 3D-Icons (https://pro.europeana.eu/project/3d-icons)

4. Gravitate (http://gravitate-project.eu/)


[1] On this issue we refer to short section on “How to Evaluate Digital Scholarship”, in Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner and Jeffrey Schnapp, DIGITAL_HUMANITIES. (MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, 2012) 128-129.