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Thursday, November 9 • 3:30pm - 4:10pm
The Digital Monograph and Primary Source Databases: Agenda Toward a Unified Conversation

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This single-speaker session will bring together two usually distinct conversations: the discourse around the "future of the monograph," and the discourse around digitized primary source databases. Clearly related to one another, these topics nonetheless continue to be treated as separate issues. This leaves a series of key questions about digital scholarship in the humanities unasked.

Why do we consider the "future of the monograph" only as a matter of form, and digitized primary source databases purely as a matter of content? Why not articulate instead a research agenda that would simultaneously explore whether digital platforms can make scholarly monographs dynamic, reusable, interactive _and_ whether digital platforms impact the nature of scholarly arguments themselves? Likewise, why view databases of primary sources solely in terms of their content when we still know so little about how their digitized format impacts researchers?

Allowing ample time for audience Q&A, this presentation will, first, address selected statements on the "future of the monograph" and digitized primary sources, including the recent JSTOR Labs report, "Reimagining the Digital Monograph," and promotional descriptions as well as scholarly reviews of vendor databases. Second, this paper will propose a research agenda, as above, for grasping monographs and primary source databases within a single frame. Here I will outline research methods both more and less simple. For instance, citation tracking can easily be used to examine monographs' content and compare the results over time, while more carefully constructed and controlled studies of how researchers interpret the same sources in print versus digital, or of how vendors choose which primary sources to digitize, can yield data to gauge the impact of primary source databases. The paper's takeaways will permit librarians, scholars, and publishers alike to make better assessments of the collections that sustain digital scholarship.

avatar for James Kessenides

James Kessenides

Kaplanoff Librarian for American History, Yale University Library

Thursday November 9, 2017 3:30pm - 4:10pm EST
Magnolia Room, Courtyard Marriott Hotel 125 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401