While it is necessary to more clearly define the notion and characteristics of such national centers, there is a danger in doing it too soon, in letting current and past models structure the future. . . . the discussion and options for centers [should remain] open until the scholarly community has had ample opportunity to identify and consider various models.
This CLIR survey contributes to the discussion by providing information on current DHC models, their benefits and limitations, and the range and reach of DHC activities. With this baseline information, SCI participants could consider whether current models are adequately addressing the changing nature of humanities scholarship or whether new models are needed.
The survey also explores the collaborative aspect of existing models. As digital humanities computing becomes an integrative, multiteam endeavor, the motivations, support structures, and reward systems that make for successful collaboration become critically important. Survey participants were asked about their experiences forming and sustaining partnerships, consortia, and other joint efforts to gauge the role of collaboration in the operations of these centers and to highlight aspects of collaboration that may be critical to the success of regional or national centers.
The yearlong study was conducted in two phases. During Phase I (June–August 2007), the planning stage, a working definition of a digital humanities center was developed and then used to identify and select survey participants. In addition, the survey questionnaire and methodology were devised. During Phase II (September 2007–May 2008), the survey was implemented and results were analyzed.