Project Management in the Humanities

Conference Chair: Lynne Siemens (U Victoria)

All times are in Pacific Time
Presentation recordings for all aligned events are available to registered participants on the DHSI 2023 group on the Canadian HSS Commons.

Wednesday, June 14, 10:00am–12:00pm




Lynne Siemens (U Victoria)



Session 1: Working with Students


Moderator: Elizabeth Grumbach



Alex Alderman (Kenyon C)
“Project Management and Support for Collaborative Student Digital Research”

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Abstract: In Spring of 2019, students in Kenyon College’s Transnational Feminisms course completed a digital-based research project on women’s movements around the world. Prof. Clara Roman Odio formed student research teams that developed topics built around high-interest, current day’s women’s issues. Digital librarian Jenna Nolt helped students locate research materials, and instructional designer Alex Alderman worked with student volunteers to define roles for project management and support for the entire class. Despite some challenges and setbacks, the project enabled students to develop skills outside their academic fields while creating a public facing resource for studying contemporary issues in women’s and gender studies.

In my lighting talk, I will explain the goals for the project, how its organization evolved to meet challenges throughout the semester, and what we learned about managing digital projects for faculty, staff, and student collaboration.



Teresa Lobalsamo (U Toronto Mississauga), Dellannia Segreti (U Toronto)
“Overseeing Small and Large-Scale Graduate and Undergraduate-Driven DL Projects”

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Abstract: This talk centres on a new model for graduate-student-led project management and the implementation of Digital Learning (DL) tools in high-enrolment undergraduate courses.

Drawing from various digital research initiatives, adjacent learning outcomes, and methods of reflective assessment embedded in a second year Food and Culture Studies course on offer at the University of Toronto Mississauga (Cucina Italiana; enrollment cap: 150), presenters will discuss effective practices in project management. Particular emphasis will be on those practices which have had noteworthy gains on students’ academic preparation and personal skills development.



Session 2: Project Management Tools and Techniques


Moderator: Caroline Winter



Sydney Lines (U British Columbia)
“Managing the Winnifred Eaton Archive”

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Abstract: The Winnifred Eaton Archive (WEA) was officially launched in 2020 as an openly accessible, digital archive of 200+ works by Asian North American author, journalist, and screenwriter Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (1875-1954). The WEA includes TEI-encoded transcriptions, facsimiles, ephemera, and bibliographic resources with future plans to include pedagogical resources. The core research team is scattered across institutions and countries: Mary Chapman (Director, UBC), Jean Lee Cole (Senior Consultant, Loyola Maryland), Joey Takeda (Technical Director, SFU), and Sydney Lines (Project Manager, UBC). We also have a small group of scholarly volunteers from Canada to the U.S. who occasionally transcribe texts for the WEA as well as occasional student research assistants (both graduate and undergraduate) who cycle through the project at various points on temporary appointments. Even before COVID-19 rapidly shifted work to an online environment, the WEA team was already navigating some of the challenges of working with each other from a relative distance, which required a number of new tools and protocols for managing the plethora of tasks associated with building and maintaining the archive. In this 5-minute lightning talk I will focus on how the WEA is managed, considering both successes and challenges the team has encountered throughout the project. I will also survey the project management tools and methods we use to manage the team and the archive, reflecting on best practices so far, the skills and knowledge needed to do this work, how to best manage and train students, and how to engage researchers in this training.

Works Cited

The Winnifred Eaton Archive, edited by Mary Chapman and Jean Lee Cole, v. 1.1, 13 March 2022,



John N. Wall (North Carolina State U)
“Managing the Recreation of Lost Space and Time: The Virtual St Paul’s Cathedral Project”

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Abstract: The Virtual St Paul’s Cathedral Project, funded by a 2015 Digital Humanities Implementation Grant of $325,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, drew on historians, musicians, engineers, architects, and linguists to recreate worship and preaching in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral in the 1620’s. It completed its work and published its website ( in 2021. Over the course of the grant’s six-year run, over 70 people were involved, each bringing different areas of expertise, experience, and commitment to the Project. Essential to the Project’s success was a combination of centralized and dispersed responsibility. John Wall, who originally conceived the Project and wrote the NEH grant proposal, identified five areas of effort – church history, history of architecture, history and performance of church music, visual modelling, and acoustic modelling — and found colleagues with appropriate expertise to take responsibility for the success of each area as well as access to students who did much of the work. Wall then communicated regularly with the leader of each group to coordinate its activities with the other groups and made sure bills were paid and reports to the NEH were submitted on time. The Project benefited from the support of a distinguished Advisory Committee who wrote letters of support and brought their expertise to bear when needed to resolve crises. It also benefited from the financial expertise of the office of NC State’s Dean for Research in the Humanities, whose staff facilitated bill payments and filed financial reports with the NEH.



Caterina Agostini, Robert Goulding, Dan Johnson and Natalie Meyers (U Notre Dame)
“Editorial Interactions and Workflows in the Harriot Papers”

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Abstract: This case study documents project management strategies in the context of documenting digital textual processing. Cross-institutional collaborators from the University of Oxford, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Cambridge have piloted several hybrid synchronous transcription sessions of De infinitis (On Infinity), a manuscript treatise by early modern English polymath Thomas Harriot. The treatise is part of the Harriot Papers, for which manual transcription and digital encoding make esoteric mathematical notations, hand-drawn diagrams, and unordered page sequences available in machine-readable formats. These complex manuscripts therefore serve as an ideal test case for exploring: 1) social modes of deep digital humanities project development and 2) the possibilities for an Interoperable Text Framework (ITF) that would enable standardized reference and delivery of texts and annotations across formats. ITF is an attempt to facilitate cross-communication among projects using different technologies, a process documented on the Open Science Framework, “Unlocking Digital Texts: Towards an Interoperable Text Framework” (

This paper presents editorial standards as the result of scholarly interactions and computational workflows with a mixture of deep subject matter experts and digital experts (see Senabre Hidalgo and Fuster Morell 2019; Tabak 2017), using a number of technologies to capture live scholarship-in-practice based on digital images of the manuscripts (which had been made available in an earlier phase of the project, ECHO, at the Max Planck Institute, We propose to briefly examine early technical aspects of this DH sociology and collaborative work in Agile Project Management (Jell 2022), relating to computational workflow, editorial conventions, and revisions to make the manuscripts available online in an interoperable and sustainable text format.

The Harriot Papers project, based at the University of Notre Dame, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the Cambridge University Library, is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Works Cited

Jell, Hazel. “Agile in the Archives: Can Agile Benefit Digital Humanities Research?” (1 November 2022), digital-humanities-research/.

Senabre Hidalgo, E., Fuster Morell, M. “Co-designed strategic planning and agile project management in academia: case study of an action research group.” Palgrave Commun 5, 151 (2019).

Tabak, Edin. “A Hybrid Model for Managing DH Projects.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 11.1 (2017).



Session 3: Project Management Tools and Techniques


Moderator: John Wall



Bernardo Bueno (Pontifical Catholic U Rio Grande do Sul)
“Creativity Management: Lessons from Past Mistakes”

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Abstract: While management may not be the primary career goal for scholars, it is often one that is imposed upon them. This role, whether temporary or permanent, presents its own set of advantages and challenges, particularly in the humanities. One of the most pressing challenges is the lack of proper training on how to effectively manage teams, tools, labs, courses, and on how to act as a liaison between different stakeholders such as university administration, students, researchers, funding agencies, and even the education ministry. In this lighting talk, I will share my experience as the leader of an interdisciplinary research group, the Technology and Fiction Research Group (TECFIC), which was active from 2017 to 2023. As the group primarily aimed at creative outputs such as interactive fiction, computer games, and literary podcasts, it presented a new layer of obstacles, since managing creative people can be difficult when it comes to dealing with deadlines and academic bureaucracy. As a creative writing undergraduate course director and adjunct director of graduate studies in letters at PUCRS University in Brazil, I had the opportunity to learn different management styles and tools. This talk provides an opportunity to share my mistakes and lessons learned while managing such projects.



Elizabeth Grumbach, Erica O’Neil (Arizona State U)
“Principles for Care-Based Project Management: Participatory Co-Creation with Community Partners”

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Abstract: Project managers are crucial in the execution of successful university-community collaboration; we orchestrate strategic goal-oriented progress, while also attending to the specifics of relationships, advocacy, and coalition building that Garcia, et al. have defined as “soft infrastructure” (pg 202). As the humanities turns to “explore increasingly complex questions and implement new types of methodologies and tools,” new methods of project management must arise (Siemens, 2020). Those working as managers in digital humanities spaces do not easily map onto established disciplinary understandings, and instead are tasked with making space for community in potentially hostile university infrastructures in order to “bring a social justice orientation to bear on our humanities disciplinary practice” McGrail, et al. (pg xi).

To more closely align university-community values, goals, timeframes, and deliverables, we have developed a Design Studio Model for cross-stakeholder collaboration. Particularly, our focus for the past two years has been using this studio model as an experimental modality for multidisciplinary applications at the intersections of critical applied ethics, humanities, and technology. The Design Studio Model is a user-centered, discourse-based model that uses principles of co-design and participatory action research to help participants engage in collaborative inquiry and action-oriented humanities (see references). In this presentation, we will reflect on how the studio model has necessitated the following principles of care-based project management: (1) strategic iteration that leads to action, (2) democratization of expertise among community-academic partners, (3) a systemic action-oriented method of compassion and care (Davis, 2023), (4) collaboration shaped by shared vulnerability and authenticity.

Davis, Jade. 2023. The Other Side of Empathy. Durham: Duke University Press.

Freire, Paulo. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (MB Ramos, Trans.) New York: Continuum.

Garcia, Ashley Sanders, Lydia Bello, Madelynn Dickerson, and Margaret Hogarth. 2021. “Building a DIY Community of Practice.” In People, Practices, Power: Digital Humanities Outside the Center. Edited by Anne B. McGrail, Angel David Nieves, and Siobhan Senier, 202-222. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

McGrail, Anne B., Angel David Nieves, and Siobhan Senier. 2021. “Introduction.” In People, Practices, Power: Digital Humanities Outside the Center. Edited by Anne B. McGrail, Angel David Nieves, and Siobhan Senier, vii-xxi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Siemens, Lynne. 2020. “Project Management.” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, Experiments. Retrieved April 14, 2023 from

Reason, Peter, and Hilary Bradbury. 2008. The SAGE Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice (2nd ed). New York: SAGE Publications.

Chevalier, Jacques M., and Daniel J. Buckles. 2019. Participatory Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry. New York: Routledge.

Sanders, Elizabeth B-N., and Pieter Jan Stappers. 2008. “Co-creation and the New Landscapes of Design.” CoDesign 4, no. 1: 5–18.



Rachel Di Cresce (U Toronto)
“Intersections of Practice: Project Management in DH”

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Abstract: Over the years, I’ve been a project librarian for several, grant-funded, digital humanities projects which have grown in scope and complexity to include a multidisciplinary team spanning three institutions, nine sub projects and sixty collaborators. As a trained librarian and PMP, I’ve come to appreciate the intersections of practice between librarianship, project management and digital humanities. Although they can be viewed as different and even oppositional to one another, they often share principles and can inform practice across domains.

As has been said of libraries, I often like to think of digital humanities projects as a type of ecology, that is, “a system of people, practices, values and technologies” (Nardi & O’Day, p. 49). Ecologies have structure, are complex, changing and contextual. These characteristics do not make them incompatible with project management practices – no project, or ecology, looks the same forever. Project management places a deep value on multidisciplinary teams and the processes which lead those teams to success (Banfield et. al). This should be encouraging to scholars, who often work in multidisciplinary teams and for whom “the project process can be as important as the project output” (Currier et al.).

I’d like to explore these intersections, as well as others, and how they can inform our work in the digital humanities sphere. Project management practices need not be so rigid and incompatible with the realities of a collaborative, interdisciplinary project. They can demand scope, clarity and outputs without impeding unpredictability or obscuring the importance of the research process. The tools and practices to help manage these projects should be seen as fully integrated into the entire system or ecology rather than their own domain.



Bonnie Russell (Michigan State U)
“Using Roadmaps and Values to Manage Complex Projects”

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Abstract: How do we navigate the complexities of grant-funded projects that are created by those who are being pulled in different directions? There’s no easy formula to get it right – it’s got to be done by collaboration and feel. For grant-funded digital projects creating and enacting a values framework can help guide decision making and be crucial to staying true to the project vision.

The current most common project management methodologies, Waterfall and Agile, don’t necessarily fit these projects due to the makeup of the team or the ways in which the work must be managed due to staffing and funding constraints. How do we create a framework that is informed by the limited resources and many times boundary-pushing goals we’re seeking to achieve?

Humanities Commons is seeking to build a set of best practices, documenting our process along the way. By focusing on roadmaps, values, iterative processes, and asynchronous communication we’re driving forward while answering four questions: is it on the roadmap? Do we have the budget? Do we have the personnel to do the work? Does it fit within our values framework?

Let’s talk about the challenges of project management and the ways in which we can ensure we’re accomplishing our goals while maintaining our focus on achieving the best outcomes. Drawing from my work with the HuMetricsHSS initiative and on the OER Publishing Values-based Scholarly Communication, we’ll look at tools to build values frameworks and how they can help assist in the management and success of such projects.



Session 4: Research Data and Rights Management


Moderator: Erica O’Neil



Caroline Winter (U Victoria)
“Recovering a Forgotten Writer Through Research Data Management”

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Abstract: Research Data Management (RDM) has emerged over the past few years as an essential skills for researchers and important element in individual research project management and the research ecosystem more broadly, including for digital and open scholarship. Most of these discussions, however, default to big data and other kinds of data encountered in the STEM and social sciences.

In this lightning talk, I present a case study of planning and implementing RDM for an in-progress DH project, Susan Ferrier: A Digital Library. This unfunded, one-person, off-the-side-of-my-desk project involves very different kinds of data. Its data is small, largely textual, and often fuzzy or incomplete. Nonetheless, it is generating data that needs to be managed, preserved, and shared. As a recovery project—Ferrier is one of many forgotten women writers of the Romantic period—managing its data so that it is shareable and reusable is key to the project’s outcomes and overall success.



Craig Jacobs, Emily Christina Murphy (U British Columbia Okanagan)
“Research Data Risk Management: Risk Assessment”

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Abstract:​ With the expansion of humanities leadership in interdisciplinary projects and the growing requirement for Research Data Management (RDM), knowing how to protect and preserve data within a project management lifecycle is essential. Although there is emerging support for RDM in many institutions, this support is often consultative or bound by institutional infrastructure (Matusiak and Sposito) and, as RDM practices are frequently developed for science and social science researchers, this support may not be legible to humanities researchers. Interdisciplinary research harbours unique risks to data, ranging from data transfer, version control, or even losing one’s records during travel, which demand appropriate risk mitigation strategies. This paper considering how risk management techniques, an endemic element of project management, can anticipate and mitigate research-related risks and in so doing contributes to emerging standards and literacies in humanities RDM.

Project management provides collaborative and cross-functional techniques that enable researchers to “reveal potential weaknesses … and hazards” and devise strategies to mitigate or even eliminate them (Popov et al.). We therefore consider two related case studies: first, the intertwined development of lab, research data, and project management protocols for the ReMedia Research Infrastructure, a new DH lab in partnership with a university research library; second, the particularities of an international research trip with cross-border data transfer back to that same lab. Beginning with an analysis of interdisciplinary qualitative risk assessment tools to identify specific project challenges, we chart the unique challenges presented to humanities researchers and the project management skills necessary to overcome them.

Works Cited

Matusiak, Krystyna K., and Frank A. Sposito. “Types of Research Data Management Services: An International Perspective.” Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, vol. 54, no. 1, 2017, pp. 754-756.

Poole, Alex H., and Deborah A. Garwood. “Digging into Data Management in public‐funded, International Research in Digital Humanities.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 71, no. 1, 2020, pp. 84-97.

Popov, Georgi, et al. Risk Assessment: A Practical Guide to Assessing Operational Risks. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 2022.



Michael O’Driscoll (U Alberta), Sean Luyk (U Alberta) and Ariel Kroon (Independent Scholar)
“Right Managements of Your Rights Management: Digital Audio File Rights Management with Spoken Web”

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Abstract: This talk will showcase how humanities scholars from SpokenWeb at the University of Alberta have created an entirely new(-to-them) process of rights management in order to organize the project of making public an archive of rare literary audio recordings from the 1960s – late 1980s. The project takes seriously what O’Driscoll and Fong term “ethical listening,” engaging with critical questions such as: How to be good caretakers of audio data, aural/audio histories? Who are the stakeholders represented in the collection and what is at stake, not just in terms of legal obligations, but ethical and moral responsibilities?

Soliciting and securing copyright or moral rights permissions for a large collection of literary audio recordings is a complex undertaking and can be overwhelming. Most collections include multiple audio objects for any individual creator, and many of those audio objects will include content from multiple creators who collaborated on a presentation together. Some creators are easily contacted, but for others, it is necessary to work through literary agents or estate authorities. And while some permissions will be easily secured, others will take much longer and require creative problem solving.
That means that designing a process that will allow digital humanities research teams to secure and track permissions in an efficient and well-documented manner requires careful planning and appropriate software support. In this presentation, researchers will share their strategies for right management of the project of rights management of older digital audio files.



Wrap up


Lynne Siemens