Organized by: Lynne Siemens (U Victoria)
Project management is a tool that has long been associated with business. Its use in the academy is increasing as projects grow beyond the scope of a single researcher. Funding agencies are encouraging this trend by requesting detailed and realistic work plans as part of grant applications. However, challenges exist for the application of project management to research projects. For example, research goals may be articulated but the methodology to accomplish them is not well understood. This is further complicated by the fact that researchers see the application of these tools as rigid management approaches, perhaps not suited for the academy.
Having said this, due to increasingly collaborative interdisciplinary projects, many humanities scholars find themselves as “instant” or “accidental” managers. They are leading teams of researchers from a variety of disciplines, research assistants, librarians and others, as well as managing financial and other resources. This is something for which they are often not prepared due to a lack of training in this area.
This raises questions for exploration with regard to the application of project management in the humanities generally and digital humanities more specifically that are addressed in this conference.
To view presentations and related materials from this event, please check out the Schedule below.
Please note: the present site does not contain a full archive of DHSI events; some presentations and related materials are not represented here. To learn more about Project Management in the Humanities, please visit dhsi.org.
For a complete listing of past Project Management in the Humanities participants, visit our Course Archive!
DHSI 2022: Project Management in the Humanities (Schedule)
Thursday, 9 June 2022
Session 1: Project Management Tools and Techniques
Elizabeth Brumbach and Erica O’Neil (Arizona State University) @EMGrumbach @drericaoneil
"Collaboration, live-streaming, and zombies: Harnessing the transformative potential of digital modalities for project management"
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 forced the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Meeting (ZAMM), a biennial, interdisciplinary conference, to pivot from in-person to virtual. Inspired by the affordances of live-streaming events, the conference planning team transformed a traditional in-person event into a multi-platform, immersive academic product. This (ongoing) moment of global crisis transmuted the limited reach of an in-person conference into an experiment in public scholarship and academic community-building: Channel Zed, “The World’s Leading Zombie Apocalypse Channel.” Channel Zed publishes weekly, live-streamed content that engages with audiences across a dozen “shows” that use zombies and the apocalypse as a lens to address questions of risk, responsibility, power, culture, and community. The production team behind this academic venture includes collaborators from diverse backgrounds and disciplines (humanities, biology, emergency medicine, psychology, graphic design) and across international time zones. Among this group are project managers from academia, industry, and the arts, who bring decades of experience to the creation and iteration of content production and project management workflows. In this presentation, we will detail how the Channel Zed team designed a new model for academic project labor and design in the wake of COVID-19 by adopting the basic principles of film production, immersive branding, digital humanities project management (Rueker and Radzikowska, 2008; Siemens, 2020) and the tenets of design justice (Costanza-Chock, 2020).--
Works Cited Ruecker, S., & Radzikowska, M. (2008). “The iterative design of a project charter for interdisciplinary research.” In Proceedings of the 7th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems - DIS 2008 (pp. 288-294). https://doi.org/10.1145/1394445.1394476 Siemens, Lynne. (2020). “Project Management.” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, Experiments. Retrieved April 6, 2002 from https://digitalpedagogy.hcommons.org/keyword/Project-Management. Costanza-Chock, Sasha. (2020). Design Justice. MIT Press.
Teresa Lobalsamo, Samantha Arpas, and Dellannia Segreti (University of Toronto Mississauga)
"Utilizing innovative project management technologies to set virtual work boundaries"
A lightning talk of innovative, resourceful EL opportunities, inspired by High-Impact Practices (HIPs) and Digital Humanities (DH) tools in virtual EL and community-based research projects focused on Diaspora Italian Food Studies and the utilization of innovative project management technologies. Through evidence of benefits to multi-disciplinary management structures and the use of various innovative technologies, the barriers and challenges faced as a result of COVID-19 have resulted in new management strategies due to the inability to conduct management practices in person. The increased possibility of helicopter management techniques occurred as a result of the rapid switch on online, giving way to easier and more accessible work surveillance without boundaries. Presenters offer new models for virtual project management through various online platforms and student-oriented approaches to setting virtual boundaries, within existing project management frameworks
Rennie Mapp (University of Virginia)
"Risk management for DH projects"
DH Project Managers often begin their work without much training or institutional infrastructure, and thus can lack expertise and resources for addressing the more common occurrences that can slow or even derail a digital project. Tools and techniques for anticipating risk are not complex, but they are not necessarily intuitive, and they can seem like busywork to humanistic academics who are accustomed to the predictable processes of individual scholarship and teaching. But when academic work intersects with information technology, and when teamwork becomes necessary in a DH project, unexpected complications become much more likely.
This presentation will offer an overview of established tools and techniques in risk management from the professionalized and well-documented field of project management. I will describe and tailor these tools and techniques for academic project managers who work in the digital humanities, beginning by defining risk in this context. I’ll identify common risks encountered in DH projects, based on my decade of PM experience and a review of the literature, and conclude by offering a set of tools and techniques from the project management field, with a discussion of how they might be used in DH.
Common DH project risks overlap in important ways with those encountered in project management in private-sector IT development. Agile development practices are often prescribed in DH as the most flexible PM approach, but DH can also benefit from more predictive (Waterfall) risk management tools. This presentation will suggest that a hybrid of Agile and Waterfall works best for DH risk management, and will offer a simplified adaptation of predictive documentation as a way for academic project managers to plan for risk
Session 2: Project Management Tools and Techniques
Graham Jensen (University of Victoria) @grahamhjensen
" Digital research commons and/as project management tools"Transcript
The Canadian HSS Commons (hsscommons.ca) is a space for the Canadian HSS research community to connect, collaborate, and share research. Currently in development, this space—which serves as a hub for open social scholarship that combines elements of institutional repositories and social networking sites—is part of a SSHRC Partnership-funded research program examining the benefits of a community-run, non-commercial digital research commons in the Canadian context.
As a deeply collaborative, national-scale initiative with both a research and software development mandate, the Canadian HSS Commons requires a clearly articulated and efficiently deployed project management strategy. In addition, it requires effective tools for collaboration—including among the project’s core team and its wider, distributed network: led by the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership, this multi-institutional project is supported by and aligned with the objectives of partners in Canada as well as Australia and the United States—including the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Compute Canada Federation, CANARIE, University of Victoria Systems, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, Érudit, Iter, the Public Knowledge Project, University of Victoria Libraries, Newcastle University, Edith Cowan University, and the Humanities Commons.
In this talk, I will discuss how the Canadian HSS Commons team based in the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) at the University of Victoria have coordinated research and development efforts in response to the needs of these partners. As part of this discussion, I will provide an overview of the project’s initiatives and stakeholders, and I will share specific examples of the roject management tools on which we rely, such as the custom, in-house task management system we developed; significantly, we use this ad hoc tool to translate the user-testing feedback we receive into actionable Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) items, which we then draw on to fine-tune the Canadian HSS Commons and its codebase through an iterative process. Throughout, I will also gesture to some of the ways that digital research commons such as the Canadian HSS Commons might themselves be used for project management. Additionally, I will reflect on how the Canadian HSS Commons and its project management strategy—as well as the tools we have adopted to implement this strategy—intersect with larger conversations about project management, open scholarship, and scholarly communication in the digital humanities.
Dannie Wynans (Fisk University)
"Evolving projects: Pivoting the Mellon-Rosenwald Project from digitization to database-building"Transcript
In 2020, Fisk University’s Franklin Library received a one-year planning grant to prepare the Julius Rosenwald Fund Collection for inclusion in the Rosenwald Digital Portal. This mainly involved digitization of materials and investigating what best practices for digital maintenance of the collection could be established leading into an implementation grant. Currently, we are in a bridge grant, attempting to pivot away from a more “traditional” digitization project into database-building and working cross-departmentally with Data Science and IT colleagues. This shift has also necessitated a shift in the way the project has been managed. During digitization, the team was mostly internal with a project manager hired for this project, the project director, and a student assistant working to digitize and organize the collection as quickly as possible. Now, the project manager is overseeing continued digitization efforts with student volunteers, coordinating the building of a prototype database to present along with our proposal for the implementation grant, working with IT to establish the necessary technical infrastructure to host the portal in perpetuity, and reaching out to project stakeholders to ensure the accessibility of the database to those it will most benefit. In this presentation, I will discuss the steps I have taken to facilitate the way this project has evolved and grown overtime, including project management software, digital asset management plans, and the hiring and training of personnel.
Richard Dean Snyder (University of Washington)
"Translating space: Moving the electronic literature lab online"Talking Points
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL) had cultivated a positive in-person working environment in the lab’s physical space at Washington State University Vancouver, surrounded by vintage Apple machines and floppy disk collections. When the pandemic necessitated a new approach, Director Dene Grigar, Project Manager Holly Slocum, and Technical and Instructional Specialist Greg Philbrook chose to emphasize a continuity of community, recognizing that digital spaces have their own materiality and may be cultivated—like physical spaces—to create specific experiences. Meeting online did not have to mean a loss of the atmosphere that made ELL successful—only its “translation.” After the addition of Richard Snyder as Assistant Director of the lab in January 2021 provided additional leadership for the team, ELL worked remotely for the entire development and launch of The NEXT—a combination museum, library, and preservation space for born-digital art and writing and our most ambitious project yet—as well as three complete rebuilds of classic works for modern browsers, a series of traversals, and a new fourth volume of Rebooting Electronic Literature. Slack channels provided task-specific discussion and problem-solving among team members, while regular all-staff meetings on Zoom (launched directly from within Slack) brought all ELL staff together to check in and discuss broad goals and challenges, with Basecamp providing storage and scheduling for each project. ELL’s team continued to grow and The NEXT launched successfully in Summer 2021, a product of this new working environment.
Session 3: Working with students and early career scholars
Lynne Siemens (University of Victoria) @lynnelynne53
"Large scale collaborations and early scholar development"
Experiences as research assistants and postdoctoral fellows on faculty research projects can be one way to develop skills in project management, collaboration, research, and others and prepare individuals for careers in the academy, and public and private sectors. This paper examines the lived experience of research assistants and postdoctoral fellows in a large research grant to understand the type of skills gained through this work. Through positive experiences, the interviewees gained skills in project management, collaboration, communication, and research. They also developed professional networks which were supportive of their intellectual contributions to the project. Recommendations for research assistants and postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, departments, and funding agencies to enhance and strengthen skills and knowledge development can be made.
Lloyd Alimboyao Sy (University of Virginia)
"Envisioning project management in graduate education"
How can graduate students incorporate project management into their education? In this talk, I draw on my experience as Project Manager for Collective Biographies of Women (CBW), a digital project led by Alison Booth at the University of Virginia. For the last four academic years, while pursuing my PhD in English Literature, I have served in the role part-time, coordinating and organizing the schedules and labor of the CBW team—consisting of Dr. Booth, myself, and roughly 3 to 4 research assistants. These research assistants are generally other graduate students, and my talk will discuss how I’ve handled the task of managing my academic peers. My talk will also tackle the related issue of attaining managerial competency in spite of occupying a relatively low position on the academic hierarchy.
Overall, my lightning talk argues that project management can be a beneficial and complementary component of a student’s experience of graduate school. Indeed, I find a convergence between my experience as a project manager and my experience as a beginning literary scholar. Both roles centralize exploration. Just as a graduate researcher learns how to tackle academic questions in depth for the first time, so a project manager helps those they manage formulate, refine, and conduct research, often engaging in the process of discovery alongside them. With that fortunate junction in mind, I suggest that project management is an ideal pathway for graduate students looking to get more formally involved in the digital humanities.
Corey Schmidt (University of Georgia)
"New to the business: Project management lessons from an early career professional"Transcript
New graduates from humanities programs may find themselves taking on some form of project management in their first job. This can be daunting, as many of these programs do not have formal project management training and feelings of imposter syndrome add even more stress. 1 As a recent graduate and early career professional, I faced these challenges and developed three key lessons for improving my project management and managing my own feelings of imposter syndrome. First, new career professionals and project managers need to take time early in the project to document communication plans, project scope and requirements with colleagues and stakeholders. 2 This sets clear expectations from the beginning and regularly reviewing this documentation as the project progresses reveals pieces that need to be adjusted or modified to fit changing circumstances. Second, taking full advantage of available tools, such as Trello, can remove human errors when building task lists and assessing progress. Trello checklists, user assignments and deadlines, and other features can minimize a project manager’s mental load by providing an accessible and tangible view on how projects are progressing and the immediate and distant tasks that need to be completed. 3 Third, early career professionals and project managers who practice compassion with themselves and their teams produce greater satisfaction and less burnout.4 Simple icebreakers and active listening with team members can produce feelings of ease and comfort when prefacing professional conversations, which in turn can lead to more optimism and active engagement in the project.--
Affiliation: Corey Schmidt, ArchivesSpace Project Manager at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
1) Weir, Kirsten, “Feel Like a Fraud?” gradPSYCH 11, no. 4 (2013): 24, https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud 2) jchamberlainhome, “My-Project-Management-Documents,” GitHub repository, last modified March 28, 2022, https://github.com/jchamberlainhome/My-Project-Management-Documents. 3) Kaundart, Chris, “How To Unlock Project Management Perfection With Trello,” Trello (blog), https://blog.trello.com/team-project-management 4) Dubner, Stephen J., “Episode 444: How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?” December 16, 2020, in Freakonomics, produced by Morgan Levey, podcast, MP3 audio, 48:50, https://freakonomics.com/podcast/how-do-you-cure-a-compassion-crisis-ep-444/.
Session 4: Working with students and early career scholars
Suzanne W. Churchill (Davidson College) @ProfSuChu
"DH project management with student partners: Herding Butterflies"Transcript
DH Project Management with Student Partners: Herding Butterflies Managing a cross-institutional, multi-year DH project is complicated, and when you add undergraduates to your team, the challenges mount. Rather than herding proverbial cats, it’s more like herding butterflies. Undergraduates are still in the process of metamorphosis and self-discovery: they may stretch their wings and fly to great heights, but they also tend to hide away in cocoons and migrate to other ecosystems. As much ingenuity as they have to offer, these fledgling scholars may also produce work that doesn’t meet publishable standards of accuracy, citation, or accessibility. And once they’ve completed a course or graduated, they have little incentive to revise or correct their work. How do you strike a balance between giving students the freedom to explore, invent, and design, while also making sure they research thoroughly, represent accurately, cite adequately, or uphold accessibility standards—all within the constraints of a summer or semester? How can you allow undergraduates to be equal partners in your DH project, while ensuring that their work meets equivalent standards of scholarly excellence?
Sustaining student interest across semesters, making sure their work meets scholarly standards for publication, and maintaining their digital projects over time are three challenges we had to address when developing born-digital, open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly book, Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde (https://mina-loy.com/). My lightning talk will present lessons learned from this project, focusing on 1) systems of peer review and editing, and 2) strategies for project maintenance and sustainability.--
Works Cited Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde. Edited by Suzanne W. Churchill, Linda A. Kinnhan, and Susan Rosenbaum. University of Georgia, 2020. https://mina-loy.com
Elena de la Varga Kramer and Oyvind Eide (University of Cologne)
"From theory to practice: How project management tools and methods can help students to organize their projects"
At a seminar at IDH in 2021, students discussed and analyzed project management in software development projects in general as well as in student projects specifically. The goal was to further develop agile methods for student projects, taking into account the specifics of such projects. We examined agile methods and discussed how these methods, which are mostly used in software development projects, are suitable for student projects. Based on the 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto, The Scrum Manifesto and Manifesto for software development in student projects (developed in a previous seminar) as well as relevant literature in the field we examined advantages and disadvantages of implementing agile methodology in student group projects, which are essential for digital humanities students in Cologne. Since the seminar was held during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also examined the impact of the lack of face to face cooperation on student project organization. As the seminars are held online, we identified a lack of communication between the different groups and with more experienced students. At the same time, the importance of digital project management tools increased since the projects had to take place in the digital space. Therefore, we decided to create a collection of helpful information for undergraduates in order to give them valuable suggestions for the management of their first DH projects. The collection is available for undergraduates and contains suggestions for project communication, organization and tools in addition to suggestions for further education. In the scope of a MA thesis, we will examine the extent to which the use of artificial intelligence and AI-based tools can simplify project management processes by accompanying the student projects in the bachelor's program. For this purpose, a tool will be developed that transcribes group meetings in the digital space so that discussed content is documented. Some preliminary results of this research will be presented.--
Works Cited Agile Alliance: 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto. https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/12-principles-behind-the-agile-manifesto/ Mark Eschweiler, Anna-Maria Evers, Dominik Kruhl, Elisabeth Reuhl und Enes Türkoğlu: Manifest für Softwareentwicklung in Studierendenprojekten. Köln, 2019. Ken Schwaber und Jeff Sutherland: The Scrum Guide. November 2017. http://www.scrumguides.org/download.html
Hanwen Dong (University of Idaho)
"Supervising a student intern to create videos for the library with a project management approach"Transcript
In 2021, the University of Idaho (U of I) Library hired an undergraduate student intern who majored in Film & Television Studies to produce several live-action promotional and instructional videos for the library makerspace for two semesters. Sponsored by the Library and marketed to students in the School of Journalism and Mass Media at the U of I, the paid internship offered college credits and valuable work experience in video production. The internship was created to address the need for change management due to makerspace staffing shortages. Student employees had been staffing the space since the manager left the organization in 2020, and the student manager with the most technical knowledge and experience would graduate in May 2021. The produced videos would serve to train incoming staff and educate patrons interested in visiting the makerspace without the presence of a staff member. Why project management? First, the video project involved multiple team members during various stages that included concept development, pre-production, principal photography, post-production, and delivery. Therefore, it was necessary for every team member to recognize their assigned tasks and roles to meet project goals and deadlines. In addition, the video post-production phase could take an agile approach due to the iterative process that involved reviewing and revising; the student intern could also work on other tasks while waiting for feedback for time efficiency. This lightning talk takes a close look at the various components of the video project, including charter, work breakdown structure, communication plan, quality control, etc.--
Affiliation: Hanwen Dong is the Instructional Technology Librarian at the University of Idaho Library
Session 5: International Partnerships and Project Management
Charlotte Schallie (University of Victoria) @CSchallie
"From Germanist to project manager: Coordinating an arts-based participatory action research project"
In this presentation, I will discuss my experience in project management for Narrative Art and Visual Storytelling in Holocaust and Human Rights Education (www.holocaustgraphicnovels.org; funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development grant; 2019-2022). Our arts-based participatory action research project (1) brings together Holocaust survivors, graphic novelists, scholars, archivists, activists, and community partners in five countries (Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and the US). Our goal was to co-produce a compilation of three graphic novels in English and German (2), three short documentaries (3), and a host of educational resources and approaches that are adaptable to local needs, and challenges. At the onset of the project, I had little experience with leading an international interdisciplinary team. I thus sought guidance and support from seasoned colleagues (Lynne Siemens, among others) helping me co-draft a project charter with our core partners, and create a solid project management support structure that would allow us to track our progress, and achieve our project goals within a three-year timeline.
Given the time constraints of a lightning talk, I will focus on my key project management strategies and tools that enabled us to a) work collaboratively and internationally across disciplines and institutions, b) build trust-based relationships, c) promote rigorous knowledge exchange, and d) be responsive to the ongoing needs of our participating survivors, artists, students, and community partners.
1) Wilson, Ciann L. and Sarah Flicker, S. (2014). “Arts-based action research.” The SAGE encyclopedia of action research, edited by David Coghlan and Mary Brydon-Miller, Sage Publications, 2014, pp. 59-62. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781446294406.n30 2) Charlotte Schallié, ed. “But I Live.” Three Stories of Child Survivors of the Holocaust. Toronto: New Jewish Press, 2022 / “Aber ich lebe.” Drei Kinder überleben den Holocaust. Munich; C.H. Beck, 2022. 3) “But I Live” (9-min documentary by Martin Friedrich) / “13 Secrets” (7-min documentary by Anna Bucchetti) / “If We Had Followed the Rules, I Wouldn’t Be Here” (9-min documentary by Chorong Kim). All three short documentaries are produced by the Narrative Art and Visual Storytelling in Holocaust and Human Rights Education project (http://holocaustgraphicnovels.org/films/).
Lisanne M. van Rossum (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, KNAW) and Maciej Eder (Institute of Polish Language, IJP PAN)
"6 overlooked good habits in international project management"
The CLS INFRA project brings together researchers from 12 European countries in order to build sustainable shared infrastructure for the budding discipline of Computational Literary Studies. Starting out in February 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, bonds had to be forged and the project had to carve out its place within the academic community, all substantial challenges to rise to. Yet when proposed to collaboratively write an abstract for this conference, 3 out of 3 project members, all of whom held (previous) management positions, expressed not having much to formally contribute to the conversation. In this lightning talk we therefore highlight 6 good habits of academics in executive positions that may be overlooked as ‘soft’ or ‘instinctual’ skills, but are concrete contributors to successful international project management:
1) Work in real time: schedule ad-hoc meetings to actually work together, use chat and not e-mail to be present in instant conversations; 2) Director is visible: have a stable and supportive central presence for daily matters; 3) Forge personal bonds: talk to each other informally even when the work does not require it, consider this an investment; 4) Transfer responsibility: put trust in executive experts who know the project inside out and can brief their supervisors for targeted strategic involvement; 5) Celebrate success: sharing enthusiasm about achievements makes project members feel seen and maintains positive momentum; 6) It’s (really) not talent: project management is about initiative, it is not a skill that some people possess while others do not
Danielle Richards (Loyola University)
"The Amy Lowell Letters Project: Creating a workflow for phase one (and beyond!)"Transcript
By the numbers, the Amy Lowell Letters Project has a lot on its plate: 1,400 letters between esteemed poet Amy Lowell and 75 of the most important poets and publishers of her day. Correspondents include Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Marianne Moore, H. D., William Carlos Williams and other important figures who had a role in the creation and production of modernist poetics. In this first phase of our project, we are transcribing, encoding, and annotating a core set of these letters, which will then be collected in an open-access scholarly edition at AmyLowell.com. But in order to manage the first phase of the project, the past project manager (Caroline McCraw) and I needed to establish a functional workflow and system of documentation that encompassed all 1,400 letters and the team members who worked on the archive. This way, as we move on to later phases of the project, we have a system in place that captures the status of each letter, the transcriber and encoders assigned, and the date the work was completed. My presentation at the DHSI will detail how we came to decide upon these methods of scaffolding, and I will offer advice on coordinating a project team across space and time. This lightning talk will be helpful for new project managers or for those with projects that will be in development for several years.