All posts by Elizabeth Milewicz

Author Agreement for a DH Project — Is That a Thing?

This post by Liz Crisenbery, 2018-2019 Project Manager for Project Vox, is part of a series on graduate students’ “Intern Experience” at Duke University Libraries. 

Author agreements — contractual documents provided by the publisher to the author, explaining the terms of publication — are foundational to many print and digital publications. Yet this stock element of publishing is not frequently discussed in relation to DH projects. Open access is a hallmark of digital humanities — making content available to anyone with an internet connection and thereby challenging the paywall approach to scholarly publishing. While open access also pushes against the overuse of copyright protections, it doesn’t oppose or necessarily undermine the rights of authors. How might digital humanities projects use author agreements to help acknowledge and protect the labor of people who develop content while also ensuring the resulting works can have broad access and use?

Communicate the role of the author agreement as a contract
Why might an established DH project consider creating author agreements?

Enter Project Vox, an open-access digital-humanities project that seeks to amplify the voices of early modern female philosophers, challenge the canon, and provide access to teaching materials and research guides. It is chiefly a collaborative effort, dependent upon a team of individuals who research, write, edit, and stage biographical and bibliographical entries on women philosophers.

Project Vox itself is an open educational resource, yet not all the content that appears on the site is created by the team. As the range of content types published by Project Vox has expanded, we have realized the need to better communicate protections and access for works published on our site.

For instance, Project Vox recently published the first English translation of Émilie Du Châtelet’s essay on optics (the complete version of which was itself only recently discovered and transcribed). As project manager I worked with Liz Milewicz (co-director of Project Vox and Head of Duke Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services) to create an author agreement that could be used for this translation and also future Project Vox publications. We wanted the translation to be easily accessible to a wide audience and to be available for use in research and instruction; we also wanted to protect the translator, Bryce Gessell, from having his work published in other forms without his consent.

Fortunately, we were able to consult with Duke Libraries’ Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications, specifically Arnetta Girardeau (Duke Libraries’ Copyright & Information Policy Consultant) and Dave Hansen (Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections, and Scholarly Communication), to create a template author agreement for Project Vox publications. Suffice it to say, we would not have created such a document without their expertise and guidance. This is the resulting template for Project Vox author agreements: Project Vox Author Agreement – Master Template.

The process of creating this agreement highlighted for us how author agreements can be challenging for DH publications and yet necessary if we truly hope to protect and honor the work of content creators while also making that content freely available. While some of the information included in the author agreement is relatively mundane (e.g., the name of the author, the name of the work, information used to create a citation, etc.), much of the document establishes legal relationships between different parties. In the process of creating our author agreement, we realized our long-held assumption that Project Vox was the “publisher” of content needed to be reevaluated. Rather, because Project Vox is hosted by Duke University Libraries, and because the Libraries provide a more stable partner for entering into agreements, the Libraries are named as the publisher. Increasingly, academic libraries are acting as publishers, challenging the nature of publishing and creating new models. (Maria Bonn and Mike Furlough edited an essay collection on this very subject, which is itself available via open access.)

illustrate what a Creative Commons license looks like
Creative Commons licenses provide digital projects and publications legal protections while promoting open access.

Additionally, the author in our agreement is tasked with choosing the type of Creative Commons license for their work and then to apply for that license. As stated on the Creative Commons organization’s website, “The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional ‘all rights reserved’ setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.”[1] These licenses allow copyright holders the ability to qualify how their work can be re-used while prioritizing greater access to the work.

Through creating this template and publishing the first work on Project Vox with a signed author agreement, I’ve gained insight into parts of DH publishing that I never previously considered, particularly related to process and documentation from the standpoint of a publisher. As DH projects continue to partner with libraries to facilitate hosting and digital publication, I hope to have more conversations about how different projects handle publication, if they have author agreements, and what processes they follow to make content accessible.

[1] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Liz Crisenbery is a PhD Candidate in musicology who studies early twentieth-century Italian opera, exploring the intersection of gender, politics, and music. Her dissertation examines masculine identities of fascist composers and reception of their operas during the height of Italian fascism. Other research interests include digital humanities, opera and media, and riot grrrl. During the 2018-19 academic year, Liz worked as project manager for Project Vox with the support of Bass Connections.

Project Vox publishes du Châtelet’s “Essay on Optics”

Project Vox, a collaboration between Duke University Libraries and the Department of Philosophy, recently announced the publication of the first English translation of Émilie Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique, or “essay on optics.” Duke doctoral student Bryce Gessell played a pivotal role in making this translation—and the transcription that preceded it—publicly available and accessible to scholars, instructors, and students worldwide. You can read more about Bryce’s work on the translation on the Duke Graduate School’s website.

Image shows handwritten text from the original manuscript
Excerpts of Emilie du Châtelet’s handwritten “Essai sur l’Optique” that were used to construct the translation. (Images courtesy of Project Vox)

Scholars have known about Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique for many years, but until recently the text has been unavailable because all copies were thought to be lost. In 1947 Ira O. Wade published the first known edition of the Essai’s fourth chapter, which was held among Voltaire’s papers in Russia. Sixty years later, Fritz Nagel, Director of the Basel Research Center of the Bernoulli Edition, discovered the first complete copy of the Essai in the Bernoulli archives in Basel. Two other complete copies, which had previously gone unnoticed, were then discovered among Du Châtelet’s surviving manuscript material.

Working with Nagel and with Duke Philosophy professor Andrew Janiak, Gessell helped produce and publish a transcription of du Châtelet’s Essai on Project Vox in 2017. The translation, more accessible to undergraduate philosophy students, helps the next generation of scholars recognize and follow the development of Châtelet’s ideas about natural philosophy.

Project Vox seeks to transform the discipline of philosophy by making the lives, works, and ideas of early modern women philosophers available for research and classroom use. Since its inception in 2014, this open educational resource has been produced by a cross-professional, cross-disciplinary, and cross-institutional team made up mostly of students, with review and advisement from philosophers worldwide. Learn more about how Duke University Libraries increase access to scholarship at ScholarWorks.duke.edu.

New Digital Scholarship Fellow: Imani Mosley

Imani Mosley (PhD student, Department of Music)

This fall the Libraries welcome a new graduate student fellow — and fellowship — to help encourage and aid digital humanities research and publishing at Duke. Imani Mosley joins the Digital Scholarship Services team as its first Harsha Murthy Fellow in Digital Scholarship, a position created with funding from Harsha Murthy (T‘81), a longtime member of our Library Advisory Board. The Murthy Fellow helps to raise awareness of and engagement in digital scholarship at Duke, primarily by promoting activities and programs in the Murthy Digital Studio in The Edge.

The Murthy Digital Studio in The/EDGE (Bostock Library Level 1)

Located on the western corner of The/EDGE overlooking Telecom Drive, the Murthy Digital Studio is a light-filled, comfortable space for a range of digital activities, from hands-on workshops and research talks, to discussion groups and project work.

Imani is already helping to organize, promote, and facilitate a number of events and projects, but gamely took a few minutes to answer some questions that would help us get to know her and this new position.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you are doing at Duke and what brought you to the digital humanities.

I’m a North Carolina native and a musicologist, and I’m working on my dissertation on twentieth-century opera entitled “‘The queer things he said’: British Identity, Social History, and Press Reception of Benjamin Britten’s Postwar Operas.” Last year, I joined the Digital Scholarship Services team and oversaw social media and outreach. I have a strong background in technology and social media so working for DSS seemed like a great fit for me.

What was it about the Murthy Fellowship in Digital Scholarship that appealed to you?

For a long time, at least back to when I started grad school at Columbia (which coincidentally is when I first started working for Apple), I’ve been fascinated with making connections between technology and the digital with the scholarly. I was always looking for ways to make my life as a scholar more public, more accessible, and more current. So the idea of being able to coordinate and create events that did just that, for graduate students and faculty, really excited me. I’ve learned so much in the last ten years — from engaging with academic communities online to converting published content to Open Access (and the legal and procedural processes involved) to working with academic software, both specific to my field and more general. Through this work with the Murthy Digital Studio, I can organize events in which I can share that information as well as learn from others who’ve had similar experiences.

What do you think will be some of the major challenges in this new role?

I think there’s no denying how much of it will be logistical. Everyone at Duke deals with a barrage of information about all of the awesome things happening on campus and for me, it’s about finding a way to cut through the din. I recognize that since this is a brand new position, that a lot of it will be about laying the groundwork, but of course I want people to come to events! So trying to be innovative and find a way to stand out that creates (assessable) results is, I think, my foremost challenge.

Something more conceptual that will be challenging in this position is identifying audiences and creating spaces that fit their needs…and finding ways to get different groups working together. I would love for humanists to ponder the possibilities of the digital humanities and digital scholarship just as I would love for those outside of the humanities to come in contact with some of the things we do. Basically, I’m hoping for interdisciplinarity at its finest!

Look for more updates from Imani soon, as she spreads the word about what’s happening in the Studio this fall! You can follow her tweets @murthydigital or subscribe directly to the Studio’s announcement list — murthydigitalstudio@duke.edu

Kick off the fall “Fantasy” season… with art!

fc_title2This fall the source code for Fantasy Collecting, a pedagogical and research tool inspired by Fantasy Football and developed at Duke University, became publicly available on GitHub.

You may think you “know good art when you see it,” but this online art game will test your mettle as a tastemaker. Art fans, hackers, educators, and economists everywhere can now use Fantasy Collecting to both become the proud owners of masterpieces and attempt to mint new ones.

For those new to the notion of “fantasy art collecting” (which likely includes most of us), the Fantasy Collecting game is a classroom teaching and research tool that uses the pulse-pounding, high adrenaline activity of a virtual art market to teach art history and economics. Students try their hands at strategically increasing their collections’ value by promoting, acquiring, and trading works of art while performing micro-scholarship in the process.

Game co-designers Katherine Jentleson (Ph.D. Candidate in the Art, Art History, and Visual Studies department and member of the Duke Art, Law and Markets Initiative) and William Shaw (Duke University Libraries’ Digital Humanities Technology Consultant with the Humanities Writ Large initiative) developed and tested the game with art history and economics classes before preparing the code for public release under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Thanks to a collaboration with Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, students were able to play first with works from the world-renowned contemporary art collection of Duke alumni Jason Rubell and later with the 1,000+ permanent collection works that the Nasher has digitized as part of its eMuseum.

Built as a teaching tool with many potential applications, the game can now be used by others as a supplement to classroom and book learning, as a basis for research studies on topics like art preferences and auction behavior, or even just for casual play. The flexibility of the code allows new users to populate the game with images relevant to his or her teaching or research goals, determine the length of desired rounds of the game, and customize game events that incentivize players to meet challenges like writing “vision statements” about their collections. Documentation and explanatory videos provided along with the code offer instruction on how the game and game play work, and specifically how it was used for art history instruction.

The three videos below explain the concept and purpose behind the Fantasy Collecting game, the rules of game play (including video captures), as well as educational outcomes and student engagement.

Background: http://youtu.be/MQsHH7fnS4c

Game Play: http://youtu.be/i8QG2bexQKM

Outcomes: http://youtu.be/aSNtbcCF3zg