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Plan a Digital Scholarship Project

A library guide to guide you through project planning for digital scholarship.

Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap

Sustainability Checklist


Creating a Project plan is key to ensuring the sustainability of your project.  According to the Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap, "Some projects might “bloom and fade,” others may plan to last for the length of an individual scholar’s career, and some may indeed strive to persist indefinitely into the future. But all of these various options are best pursued as intentional plans rather than surprise happenstance. Even the process of ending a project is something that can be done with forethought and integrity. Digital projects might end for a variety of reasons, from an intentional “sunsetting” of the work to a sudden loss of funding resulting in an inability to support the project any further. The Roadmap is here to help plan for any and all sustainability aspirations or exigencies, (Welcome and Getting Started). 

Project Phases 

There are three phases that a project experiences during its lifespan. Those phases include:

  • Active Creation (Development)
  • Maintenance (Software Updates, Correcting Data)
  • Retirement (Graceful Degradation, Removal)

What phase of development would you currently say your project is in? 

3-Year Project Plan

  • How long do you want your project to last? Why did you choose this lifespan?
  • What do you want to accomplish in the next three years? 
  • Who will use your project? What access points need to be available for the project to work for this audience? 
  • What is your project’s narrative, argument, or mission? How do you plan to convey this framework?
  • What are the structural components of your project? 
  • How do you back up your data?  Consider three storage places (Useable, Dark, and Hardcopy).
  • How is the technology/project funded, and for how long will that funding last?
  • Who will be responsible for developing, maintaining, and retiring the project? How often will the team meet over the course of the project's lifespan? 

The information from this section was authored by the Sustaining DH: An NEH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities and modified from the Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap.  

Sustainability Resources

Cohen, Daniel H. and Roy Rosenzweig. “Preserving Digital History.”Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Digital Preservation Coalition. “Why Digital Preservation Matters.” Digital Preservation Handbook. Last accessed February 25, 2018.

Lynch, John A., et al. “Scholarly Web Design Best Practices for Sustainability.” UCLA Center for Digital Humanities Blog, June 14, 2017.

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