Skip to Main Content
Research Guides

Digital Scholarship Research Guide: Getting Started on Your Project

Tools and resources to get you started on your digital scholarship projects

Getting Started with Digital Scholarship

The choices you make in selecting your tools are an essential part of your documentation and your process.


Using tools doesn’t make you a digital scholar; critical thinking does.


Many digital scholarship tools can be seen as visualization tools but they have different strengths and features.  In part, when you choose a tool, you are choosing how you want to see your data.


Before you choose your tools or start your project there are several important considerations and questions that you should answer first:

  • Licensing

    • Did you pay for the platform or tool that you want to use?

    • What is in the license agreement, if any, that you agree to in order to use the tool?

    • If you are paying for use of the tool/platform, is it a one-time payment or an annual renewal?  If the payment is an annual renewal do they remind you to renew?

  • Ownership (of your work, @UW)

    • Who owns the project?

    • In what space was the project built: personal or university?

    • What happens when you leave the university if it was created using university resources or spaces?

  • Platform support status and lifespan

    • Is the platform you want to use open source?

    • What type of support model does the platform have? User community, developer support?

    • What type of maintenance and funding does this platform have?

    • Is it new and shiny or old and reliable?

    • Know your development stages  and the differences between the two:

      • Alpha and Beta

  • Audience

    • Who is your audience for this project: You, specialized or scholarly, other digital/multimedia scholars, students, general public?

    • Does the platform require you to make your data available in return for free use?

    • Are you concerned about who has access to your data?

    • Could your data be considered to be anyone else’s property?

    • Are there any IRB or other restrictions on your data?

  • Flexibility (Visibility and Portability)

    • Can you export your data?

    • Can you prepare it elsewhere and import it?

    • Can you export your data?

      • In a way that allows others to see your data?

      • In a way that allows you to use the data in other platforms?

      • In a proprietary file format?

  • Robustness

    • Your platform needs to be able to handle unexpected inputs/actions in a way to allows the user to fix the issue and continue with minimal disruption.

    • Understand that precise standards are subjective.

    • Do you get an error message if something goes wrong? Is it an informative error message?

  • Hosting issues: there are two different types of hosting to choose from

    • Web-based hosting or server-side hosting is where someone else is making sure that it works and gets upgraded.

    • Locally hosted or client-side means that you are hosting on your computer or server.

    • There is usually a cost associated with web hosting.

  • What types of objects are you working with?

  • Metadata: essential to findability, reusability, and sharing

    • Which file format are you using? Is it a standard format?

    • What are your naming conventions?

    • Are you creating a backup copy of your data?

  • Grant or Repository Requirements

    • Are you required to use a repository?

    • Does your institution have a repository?

    • What resources are available at your institution?

    • Are you required to make your data/project available for re-use? Under what conditions? Do you need/want Creative Commons Licensing?

    • How long are you required to retain your data?

    • Do you have a data management plan? Are you required to?