Review guidelines

While there is no one-size-fits-all checklist for the diversity of digital projects the journal is likely to encounter, we do want to provide a set of general guidelines to help project authors understand the kinds of scholarship we’re looking for, and to provide reviewers with a baseline for commentary.

Project reviewers will prepare their reviews in two sections:

  1. The first will be an evaluation prepared to be published alongside the authors’ statement and, if desired, a reply from the authors to the review in the public DHCommons journal.
  2. The second will be private comments and suggestions prepared only for the authors to help them develop the project.

Further developments of the platform should allow wider comments from the community, moderated by the DH Commons editors.

Our review guidelines are separated into three different categories: Contribution, Presentation, and Preservation. See also Submission Guidelines for more information about how the review process is implemented practically.


This section asks reviewers to consider the overall field contribution of the project, paying special attention to gains made following the initial funding period (if applicable). We are particularly interested in how digital methods and modes of presentation offer new ways to address ongoing scholarly conversations or contribute to to Digital Humanities methodology.

Questions include:

  1. How does the project advance contemporary discussions within its particular subject area?
  2. Does the project fully engage with current scholarship in the field?
  3. Do the digital methods employed offer unique insights into the project’s key questions?


Rather than narrowly about web or interface design, this section also asks reviewers to confront the project’s methodological and scholarly aims from a more disciplinary perspective. As much as possible, we want to move from thinking in terms of a form/content divide toward a full consideration of the digital project as purpose-built scholarship. In other words, the digital in digital humanities scholarship should make clear and critical interventions into important field topics, rather than simply being a mode of delivery.

Questions include:

  1. Does the interface effectively communicate and facilitate the goals, purpose, and argument of the project?
  2. How do the design and content elements of the project interact and integrate with one another?
  3. Discuss usability of the interface(s) from the perspective of a reader/researcher; if possible, also discuss usability from the perspective of current user experience best practices.


Preservation can mean a number of different practices in a digital context. From long-term data storage to continued frontend browser optimization, the one thing that unifies preservation as a category is human commitment to upkeep and best practices. Preservation may be addressed in different ways depending on the short or long term goals of the project.

Questions include:

  1. Have relevant best practices and standards been followed for markup and metadata?
  2. Is documentation available about the project? Is information provided about who, why, when, and how different responsibilities were assigned?
  3. How is the project hosted? Through a university server? A commercial host? A non-profit organization? Is there evidence of ongoing commitment to support of the project at the level of hosting? Is there similar evidence of ongoing support from project personnel?
  4. Is there a preservation and maintenance plan for the interface, software, and associated databases (multiple copies, mirror sites, collaboration with data archives, etc.)? Is the project fully exportable/transferable?
  5. Is the software being used proprietary, open-source, or editable by multiple programs? Are there clear plans for future accessibility? Will researchers have access to project material and/or metadata outside of a web-based interface?  
  6. Is there a sustainability plan, if appropriate?


Project statement and review guidelines are based on: