Doctoral candidate Katrina Fenlon successfully defended her dissertation, “Thematic research collections: Libraries and the evolution of alternative scholarly publishing in the humanities,” on September 8.
Her committee included Carole Palmer (chair), professor and associate dean for research, University of Washington Information School; Senior Lecturer Maria Bonn; Julia Flanders, professor, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Northeastern University; and Dean Allen Renear.
From the abstract:
The omission of digital scholarship from systems of scholarly communication – including peer review, library collection, discovery, organization, and preservation – poses a potential detriment to the evolution of humanities scholarship and the completeness of the scholarly record. One emergent genre of digital production in the humanities is the thematic research collection (Palmer, 2004): a collection created by scholarly effort, which gathers and provides access to primary sources to support research on a theme. This study investigates the defining features of thematic research collections, and considers the challenges for libraries in supporting this genre of scholarly production. Through a broad typological analysis of a large sample of collections, in tandem with a detailed qualitative content analysis of representative collections, this project characterizes collections in terms of their defining attributes and their distinctive differences, both from one another and from other kinds of collections. Through a set of interviews with practitioners in digital humanities centers and libraries, this study illuminates the challenges to the sustainability and preservation of thematic research collections, and potential strategies for ensuring their long-lived contributions to scholarship.