(35% of overall grade)
Introduction and Goals
The project is a ubiquitous concept within Digital Humanities. Over the course of the semester, we will explore, evaluate, and create digital humanities projects through critiques and in class activities. In addition, you will also create your own digital humanities project that pursues a research question, analyzes data (in some form), and draws substantive conclusions. Your project will be explored and graded through the lens of the same Project Evaluation Template that we use to critique digital humanities projects throughout the semester.
The goal of the final project is to give you practice conducting (digital) humanities research and developing and managing a project from start to finish. You will be challenged to think critically about your research question, the data you use, how you analyze and present what you learn, and the decisions you make along the way. You will also reflect on your own research process and explain it to your peers, which can guide you when you conduct research and/or manage projects in the future. This experience will help you understand and evaluate research in the world of digital humanities and beyond.
You will conceive of and create your own digital humanities project. You may work individually or in groups as you prefer. The project can be on any topic that you choose, as long as it is driven by a research question, and the final deliverable can be an essay or a website. If it is a website, it can take on many forms (such as a digital archive or exhibit, a multimedia essay, or an interactive visualization). Regardless of format, the final project must:
- be guided by a research question,
- clearly articulate the methodology used in researching and preparing the project,
- and, use argumentation and analysis to make an argument.
In developing the project, there will be several milestones along the way. We will begin to brainstorm topics and develop research questions in early October, and there will be a project proposal due in late October. You will be required to check in with the instructors around Thanksgiving, and in the final class period of the semester, you will do a trial run of the final project presentation. During finals week, you will give a project presentation and turn in the final deliverable and self-reflection essay.
- Oct 8 – Project Ideas
Oct 29 –Proposal – Rough draft due 11/1; Revised draft due 11/8
- Between Nov 15- Dec 3 – Check in meeting
- Dec 10 – Draft Presentation
- Finals Week (date TBC) – Presentation
- Dec 17 (10am) – Final Project
Project Ideas (Due Oct 8)
Brainstorm ideas for the final project and start thinking about what research questions are behind your interest in these ideas. May include up to two ideas, with at least 4-5 sentences explaining the idea and the research interest behind it. You may change your mind as you progress through the semester, but keep in mind that the earlier you begin working on your project, the easier it will be.
This assignment is not given a letter or numerical grade, but if you do not turn it in you will lose points on your final project grade.
Due Oct 29 Rough draft due 11/1; Revised draft due 11/8)
Write a 2 page (single spaced) description of:
- the research question posed by your project, including how you selected it
- How you came to explore this topic (if you chose this topic because it is a hobby that you are passionate about, say so, for example)
- Were you influenced by other DH projects or methods we explored in class?
- How your research question has evolved over time
- What your goals are for the project
- ideas for where data to analyze will come from
- proposed methods for analysis
- proposed final deliverable (website or essay; if website, what type [digital archive, interactive map, etc)
At least 3 credible sources (scholarly, or at the approval of an instructor) must be cited to show that background research has been done to frame the project. Each source must include 1-2 sentences explaining how it relates to the project.
Check in meeting (Nov 15 – Dec 3)
Sign up for a timeslot in Slack to meet with the instructor. We will discuss the progress you’ve made on your project, brainstorm ideas and strategies for troubleshooting, provide feedback, and assist with any challenges you are facing.
This assignment is not given a letter or numerical grade, but if you do not meet with the instructor, you will lose points on your final project grade.
Draft Presentation (Dec 10)
In a 6 minute presentation, share your final project with the class as if you were giving the final presentation, with the project as complete as possible at this time. The presentation should share the final deliverable, what it is meant to accomplish, and discuss challenges or problem areas where the group or individual could benefit from the collective assistance of the class. For more information on what you should cover, see the Presentation description below. You should have a draft of your slides for this presentation. This presentation is to allow for feedback and advice from the rest of the class and the instructor.
Presentation (Finals Week, date TBC)
You will have 6 minutes to share your final project, excluding time for questions. Begin by sharing the research question and motivation behind the project. Then, show your final product briefly and share conclusions and findings that can be drawn from the project. Finally, discuss the methodology and process that led you to the final product.
Address the following elements of your final project:
- Research question
- What is your research question?
- What led you to pursue that question? Why does it interest you?
- How did it develop over the course of the semester?
- What decisions did you make and why?
- Argument and Findings
- What does your project demonstrate or argue? How does it make that argument?
- What evidence did you use?
- What should users/viewers/readers learn from your project?
- Final product(s)
- This may include a demo of a visualization, an excerpt from a video, or a short tour of your website.
- As in previous presentations, make sure that you take screenshots or otherwise embed this portion into your slides so that you do not lose time because of connectivity or login issues.
Fitting all of this into 6 minutes is a challenge. Practicing your presentation at least once before the presentation day is strongly advised.
You should use slides to organize your presentation. Use the Successful Slides tips document as an aid in developing your slides. You will not be graded separately on your slides, but they are key to ensuring a successful presentation.
Final Project (Dec 17, 10am)
- Deliverable(s) from your final project (website URL, essay, etc)
If you worked as a group on the project, one member of the group will turn in the deliverable to the instructors, and each member of the group will submit individual self-reflection essays.
Your final project must convey your methodology: the process, work, and decisions that went into the final product.
There is no specific length or format associated with this component. You will be graded based on how thoroughly the following topics are covered in your final project. They do not need to be covered in a standalone section but instead can be integrated into the project in many places, depending on the goals and audience of your project.
Share what choices you made and why in:
- Refining the research question
- Did you adjust it based on the availability of data, or to scope it appropriately?
- Selecting and finding material/data
- If you are using a particular dataset because it was already created and available, cite the source and explain why you chose it.
- If you curated material that was already available, for example, in a digitized library, explain where it came from and why you chose it.
- If you collected your own data, how did you collect it? Where did it come from?
- Describe any limitations of your data. Is there information missing?
- Preparing your data for analysis and presentation
- Did you transform the data in any way?
- Selecting your presentation method (map/network/etc? what tool(s) did you use? why?)
- If you selected a particular tool because it could handle geocoding data for you (for example), say so. If you chose to do a network graph, explain why you chose that visualization and analysis format.
- If you have chosen to share your data, on your project website or through Github, include your reasoning behind doing so.
Argumentation and Analysis
Your final project will be graded using the Project Evaluation Template. You are also expected to convey the findings of your research and conclusions that can be drawn from those findings in your final project deliverable.
In 1-2 pages, single spaced, reflect on the experience of this project. What did you learn from the experience of creating a research project from scratch? Was this type of assignment new to you? How did you feel about needing to make your own choices about finding data and selecting tools?
If you worked in a group, how did the group work together? Was it a smooth experience, or a rocky one, or both?
Examples from past years:
Note: These projects each have strengths as well as weaknesses. Past iterations of this course have had slightly different framings for the final project, and so none of these should be considered perfect examples to copy for your project. That said, these examples should offer a sense of the variety of topics and project deliverables that you can pursue for your project.
- “Eyre” Head: An Interdisciplinary Approach to “Jane Eyre” – https://janeeyredh.wordpress.com/ (Karah Smith, 2017)
- Pure Michigan on Instagram – http://smentow2.msu.domains/puremichigan/ (Suzanna Smentowski, 2017)
- The Movement of MSU Basketball Players During the Tom Izzo Era – https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?mid=1dEmeYPAzb6zDwIo2BAR2ry4UGawM2IHr&ll=19.03855906235101%2C-86.95155834999991&z=2 (Andrew Duris, 2018)
- SCP Wiki – http://moelle35.msu.domains/ (Jason Moeller, 2019)
- Project ideas, check in meeting, and draft presentation (5%)
- If you complete each of these assignments, you will receive full credit. If not, you will be docked points.
- Proposal (10%)
- Describes the research question to be explored
- How you came to choose your topic
- How the research question evolved over the course of the semester
- Your goals for the project
- Describes a project that:
- is appropriately scoped
- makes use of one or more digital humanities method(s)
- is likely to produce findings that respond to the research question
- produces a final deliverable in the form of a website or essay
- Provides a source of data that will be analyzed
- Cites at least three sources
- Presentation (10%)
- Communicates the research question and motivation behind the project
- Showcases the final project deliverable and shares findings
- Explains the methodology and processes that led to the final product
- Uses time appropriately (did not finish too early or over time)
- Presentation is organized and flows naturally
- Communication is clear, engaging, and polished (including, eye contact with audience members, did not speak too fast or too slow)
- Uses slides that enhanced the presentation
- Final Project
- Methodology (35%)
- Answers the prompts described in the methodology section above
- Argumentation and Analysis
- Project Evaluation Template (25%)
- All sections of the template are addressed in the project deliverable
- Findings/Conclusions (5%)
- Research findings and conclusions are communicated in the final project deliverable
- Project Evaluation Template (25%)
- Self-Reflection (10%)
- Thoughtfully considers the experience of the final project
- If part of a group, considers and reports on how the group worked together, both successes and challenges
- Meets the minimum length requirement of one page single spaced (12 point font)
- Methodology (35%)