Exploring Peer Review in the GeoHumanities

Brief Description of the Workshop

This workshop expands upon Weimer and Wrisley’s accepted DH2015 poster presentation, ‘Supporting Peer-Review for GeoHumanities and Spatially Inflected Projects’, in which the authors are exploring existing peer review criteria in the digital humanities and suggesting how the geohumanities present special challenges for such criteria. This workshop aims to open that conversation up for community exploration. Attendees will walk through the draft peer review criteria provided in the poster, using a few exemplary projects pre-selected by workshop planners and work in small groups to test (critique) the draft criteria. Suggested modifications will later be presented for input to the larger geohumanities community through the ADHO GeoHumanities SIG.

Target Audience

The target audience for this workshop is anyone involved in geohumanities, spatially inflected research, or information visualization, as well as those interested in defining peer review criteria more generally. We expect approximately 20 participants.

Relevance of the Workshop

With an eye for the complexities of authorship, collaboration, and attribution, a starting point for evaluating spatial research is UNL’s Best Practices (2014), a document that provides a high-level overview of design principles, navigation, and testing, as well as dynamic content and multimedia. Both Drucker’s claim (2013) that our theoretical notions should be reflected in our interfaces and Rumsey’s outline of future discussion of spatio-temporality (2009) are other important starting points. Whereas the humanities have been mostly influenced by the linguistic and visual turns, Rumsey argues that they ‘have not given priority to critical spatial reasoning’. These are among the key topics of conversation we hope to initiate in the workshop.

Professional associations provide some guidance for the evaluation of scholarship in non-traditional formats. DH Commons, the CenterNet-sponsored publication, provides ‘peer review for mid-stage digital projects’ among its goals in order ‘to foster an innovative, truly developmental model of peer review’. To that end, it provides detailed guidelines for submission and review. Reviewers are asked to consider questions in categories of ‘Contribution, Presentation, and Preservation’. There is a separate list of elements suggested for inclusion in submissions, including goals of the project, intended audience, and technical documentation, among many others.

The DH Commons criteria, as well as those provided by the Modern Language Association, ARC, and NINES, are naturally oriented towards textual scholarship and do not account well for several aspects of the geohumanities domain. As Nowviskie (2012) rightly notes, review of digital textual scholarship is often based on a comparison to a print equivalent. Even though the visual arguments of such projects might be accompanied by textual content that falls within specialized subject domains, this metaphor of print is obviously inadequate for the visualization of spatially inflected research. What makes the geohumanities particularly complex is that spatially inflected projects embody specific (and sometimes multiple) theoretical assumptions about place and time in their visual output. The deliverables of this workshop should be considered, therefore, as supporting the general scholarly environment of peer assessment in the case of a geohumanities project, or a project containing spatial elements. To that end, in addition to the review criteria offered by DH Commons (above), the workshop leaders will probe attendees to suggest additional geohumanities-related criteria.

Workshop attendees will conduct a short ‘trial’ review of a few exemplary geohumanities projects, using the draft GeoHumanities criteria. Possible candidates include ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire (Stanford), the Early Modern Map of London (Victoria), the Mapping the Lakes project (Lancaster), as well as any suggested by workshop participants.

Workshop leaders will build on the questions laid forth by DH Commons and the results of the poster presentation by Weimer and Wrisley in presenting a list of suggested guidelines against which the exemplar projects might be discussed and reviewed by the participants. Criteria to be addressed by the participants in the workshop could include how a project mobilizes spatial concepts or facilitates spatial reasoning, how transparent it is about data provenance and reuse of infrastructure, how it engages with spatio-temporal representation, how open its code and data are, and what kind of innovation is most notable in the project (creation of spatial data, infrastructure, visual semantics, etc.).

Outcomes for the Workshop

The workshop will appeal to a range of constituencies and produce a number of outcomes: (1) valorizing the creation and visualization of spatial data as a research practice, (2) pushing forward geohumanities research in a community of practitioners by encouraging best practices in an emergent domain, and (3) setting forth some clear guidelines for professional review of work carried out in that domain.

Timeline for the Workshop

3 hours, plus 15-minute break

Mini-Presentations (by Leaders)

1. 10 minutes: Introduction to issues of digital scholarship, more generally in DH.

2. 10 minutes: Introduction to issues related to geohumanities projects.

3. 10 minutes: Introduction to review criteria draft provided for this workshop.

Break-Out Group Work (Leaders and Participants)

4. 45 minutes: Break-out for small groups to perform review using draft criteria with suggested projects. (Alternative exercise for those engaged in geohumanities projects would be self-review of projects). This could be done as an online form with some Likert-like scales and plenty of room for narrative feedback.

Small Group Presentations (Participants)

5. 45 minutes: Reports from break-out groups on usability of draft review criteria.

15-minute break

Discussion and Revisions (Collective)

6. 30 minutes: Collective revisions to draft criteria (using CommentPress or GoogleDocs).

7. 30 minutes: Summary and plan for next steps (modes of peer review).

Technical Needs

A projector and Wi-Fi.

Pre- and Post-Workshop Deliverables

There will be no CFP for the workshop. Workshop leaders will post readings on the GeoHumanities SIG site and will open those for comment before, during, and after the workshop. Workshop leaders will summarize the results of the workshop immediately to the GeoHumanities SIG site and submit a more thorough analysis in article form to Digital Humanities Quarterly or Journal of Digital Humanities.

Profiles and Research Interests of Workshop Leaders

David Wrisley, American University of Beirut–English, dw04@aub.edu.lb (@DJWrisley), comes to the geohumanities from medieval studies and literary history. His research brings together literary geographies, humanities visualization, and entity extraction from medieval texts. His teaching includes modeling spatial data for the humanities, digital environments for teaching medieval literature, as well as network modeling and storytelling using literary texts. He organized the panel ‘Geospatial Literary Studies’ at MLA2014 and is proposing ‘The Visual Display of Literary Information’ for MLA2015. He will be teaching ‘Spatial Humanities and Digital Mapping’ at DHI-Beirut in March 2015.

Kathy Weimer, Rice University, Fondren Library, kathy.weimer@rice.edu (@kathy_weimer), is a librarian with research and practical background in map and GIS collections and services in libraries, gazetteer development, georeferencing digitized historic maps and photos for spatially aware digital archival exhibits, and related digital humanities projects. She is co-editor of the Journal of Map & Geography Libraries and is co-founder and co-chair of the ADHO GeoHumanities SIG.

Karl Grossner, Stanford University Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research, karlg@stanford.edu (@kgeographer), is a geographer and digital humanities research developer. In his present position he designs and builds geospatial interactive scholarly works, and develops generalized software and systems useful for digital humanities research. As a Geographic Information Science researcher, his interests lie in computational models of place and extending the capabilities of traditional GIS to support an as yet unrealized class of digital historical atlases. Karl is co-founder and co-chair of the ADHO GeoHumanities SIG.

Appendix A

  1. Advanced Research Consortium (ARC). (2014). Scholarly Peer Review
  2. Belojevic, N., Sayers. J. and the INKE and MVP Research Teams. (2014). Peer Review Personas. JEP: The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 17(3).
  3. DHCommons Journal . http://dhcommons.org/journal.
  4. Drucker, J. (2013). Performative Materiality and Theoretical Approaches to Interface. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 7(1).
  5. Map of Early Modern London (University of Victoria). http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/index.htm.
  6. Fitzpatrick, K. (2011). Peer Review, Judgment, and Reading. Profession, 6: 196–201.
  7. Mapping the Lakes : A Literary GIS (Lancaster University).
  8. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/mappingthelakes/index.htm
  9. Modern Language Association. (2012). Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities .
  10. Nowviskie, B. (2012). Evaluating Collaborative Digital Scholarship (or, Where Credit Is Due). Journal of Digital Humanities, 1(4), http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-4/evaluating-collaborative-digital-scholarship-by-bethany-nowviskie/.
  11. ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire. Stanford, CA. http://orbis.stanford.edu/.
  12. Rumsey, A. S. (2009). Scholarly Communication Institute 7: Spatial Technologies and the Humanities, University of Virginia, 28–30 June 2009. In Scholarly Communication Institute, Reports on Summer Institutes, pp. 115–22.
  13. University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. (2014). Best Practices for Digital Humanities Projects .
David Joseph Wrisley (dwrisley@gmail.com), American University of Beirut, Lebanon (Lebanese Republic) and Katherine Weimer (kathy.weimer@rice.edu), Rice University, Texas, USA and Karl Grossner (karlg@stanford.edu), Stanford University, California, USA