35% of your overall class grade
(Breakdown: Proposal – 5%, Project Update Presentation – 5%, Project Presentation – 5%, Final Project – 20%)
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. Then, you will create your own digital humanities project that pursues a research question, analyzes data/information, and draws substantive conclusions. I will grade your project through the lens of the same Project Evaluation Template that we use to do project critiques.
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. The final deliverable will be in the form of a website*, but its content and structure are up to you. For example, it could be 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 methods used to research and prepare the project,
- and, use discussion and analysis to make an argument.
*Website platform options:
- WordPress, through MSU Commons or Humanities Commons
- Google Sites, through MSU
- If you want to use a different platform for your project, you must receive permission from me.
We will begin to brainstorm topics and develop research questions in the second half of October, and you will meet with me to develop your ideas into a proposal before the proposal document is due in the first half of November. After the Thanksgiving break, you will record a project update presentation to share with the class, and then during Finals week, you will give a final presentation about your project and turn in the project itself. Throughout this time, we will devote several class sessions to project work, during which time you can get help from myself and your classmates and ensure that your project isn’t left until the last minute.
- Oct 21 – Project Ideas Due
- Between Oct 24 – Nov 4 – Meet with Instructor
- Nov 11 – Proposal Due
- Dec 2 – Project Update Presentation Due
- Finals Week – Presentation
- Dec 14 – Final Project Due (end of day/midnight)
Project Ideas (Due Oct 21)
Brainstorm ideas for the final project and start thinking about what research questions are behind your interest in these ideas. You may include up to two ideas, with at least 4-5 sentences explaining the idea and the research interest behind it. Be as specific as you can and feel free to include points of inspiration (projects that you would like to emulate, for example) as you have them. Turn in the ideas as a document (google doc, Word, or pdf) to me via Slack by the beginning of class.
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. This document will guide our meeting prior to your Proposal, so the more you have ideas and questions at this stage, the better off you will be moving forward.
Meet with Instructor (Oct 24 – Nov 4)
After your final project ideas have been submitted, but before the end of the day on Friday, November 4, you need to meet with me for feedback. We will go over your ideas, discuss progress you have made on the project, brainstorm ideas and strategies for troubleshooting, and look toward the project proposal so you can be on track to succeed.
The meeting will be scheduled by signing up for a timeslot in Slack. Available times will be posted by mid-October. We can meet in person or via Zoom depending on your preference.
This assignment is not given a letter or numerical grade, but if you do not meet with me, you will lose points on your final project grade.
Proposal (Due Nov 11) (5% of overall class grade)
In at least 1000 words, write a description of the proposed topic, including:
- The topic
- The research question
- How and why you selected this topic and developed the research question
- 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 has your research question has evolved over time
- What your goals are for the project
- What data and/or materials will you use?
- If you are working with a dataset/materials that already exists, attach it or link to it in the proposal.
- If you are going to create a dataset/materials yourself, explain what you need to collect and how you plan to do so.
- How will you analyze the data/materials? What DH method(s) will you employ to help answer your research question?
- How will you present your research? (Will your website showcase an archive of digitized materials? Will you create a video that explains your research results? 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.
A successful proposal will
- Be a minimum of 1000 words
- Includes at least 3 sources and explanations of how those sources inform the project. Each source is scholarly in nature
- Address all of the prompts/questions above
- Articulates a research question
- Explains how the research question will be analyzed/explored using relevant data/materials
Project Update Presentation (Dec 5
2) (5% of overall class grade)
In a 7 minute presentation, provide an overview of your project for the class, including a status report of how things are going at this point and what you still have to do in order to complete the project. Think of this presentation as a revised version of your project proposal, updated to incorporate the progress you have made since the proposal, and geared to the class as the audience. Use slides to make the information you are presenting clear, and include images and screenshots to help show what you are doing and what you hope to do. Screenshots of spreadsheets and data are especially encouraged. This presentation is supposed to give a status report of your project behind-the-scenes, so share your triumphs and challenges thusfar.
Record the presentation, upload it to Mediaspace, and share the link in Slack in the #assignmentdeposit channel by the end of the day Monday, December 5
beginning of class on December 2. The recording can be a) a screenshare video showing picture of you and slides; or, b) a recording of you giving a presentation in a room with slides or a screen behind you. If you have technical issues, be in touch with me as soon as possible.
By the end of the day Thursday, December 8
Monday, December 5, reply in Slack (using the ‘thread’ function) to at least 3 of your classmates’ presentations with a substantive comment or question about their project.
- Uses time appropriately (did not finish too early or over time)
- The presentation provides an informative overview of the research question and aims of the project
- The presentation cohesively articulates the status of the project at this time and explains what remains to be done
- Feedback and response to fellow students is thoughtful, meaningful, and constructive
Presentation (Dec 13, 10:30-12:30) (5% of overall class grade)
You will have 4
6 minutes to share your final project, excluding time for questions. Begin by briefly sharing the research question and motivation behind the project. Then, s Show your final product briefly, articulate the research question, and share conclusions and findings that can be drawn from the project. Then Finally, discuss the methodology and process that led you to the final product. Screenshots of spreadsheets, behind-the-scenes activities, and of your final project site are strongly encouraged.
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?
- Methodology and Materials
What decisions did you make and why?What materials and/or data is your project based on? Where did they come from?
- 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)
- Show your project through screenshots and images. There will not be time to demo your visualization or tour your site during the presentation. Your classmates will enjoy exploring your site on their own after you share it in the Slack #assignment-deposit channel when you turn it in (by Wed night).
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 4
6 minutes is a challenge. Practice your presentation at least once before the presentation day.
should use slides to organize your presentation. Use the Successful Slides tips page 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.
- Uses time appropriately (did not finish too early or over time)
- Communicates the research question
and motivationbehind the project
- The argument and conclusions of the project are articulated – what did you discover through this research?
- Showcases the final product and shares findings
- Explains the
methodologymaterial and processes that led to the final product
- Communication is clear, engaging, and polished (including, eye contact with audience members, did not speak too fast or too slow, able to be heard)
- Uses slides that enhanced the presentation
Final Project (Dec 14, end of day/midnight) (20% of overall class grade)
Turn in your final project to me in Slack by sending the project website link in the #assignment-deposit channel.
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.
- The methodology behind the project is visible and articulated clearly
- The prompts above relating to methodology are addressed somewhere in the final project
- Research findings and conclusions are thoroughly and thoughtfully articulated
- All sections of the Project Evaluation Template are addressed – for example, you do not need a ‘users’ section of your site, but you do need to have indicated in some way(s) who the intended users of your project are, so when I evaluate your project using the template, I can understand the aims of the project.
- The project presents a clear purpose and is suitable for its audience
Examples from past years:
Note: These projects each have strengths as well as weaknesses. Past iterations of this course have had variations in framing for the final project, and 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”, Karah Smith, 2017
- Pure Michigan on Instagram, Suzanna Smentowski, 2017
- The Movement of MSU Basketball Players During the Tom Izzo Era, Andrew Duris, 2018
- SCP Wiki, Jason Moeller, 2019
- Feminism in the Music Industry: The Taylor Swift Effect, Bonnie Bremer, 2021
- Products and Producers of the 20th Century (Text Analysis of Ghandi and Hitler), Kristin Mezaache, 2021