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Project Management in the Humanities 2022 Special Issue: Introduction

Published onOct 11, 2023
Project Management in the Humanities 2022 Special Issue: Introduction

Building on the success of the first two Project Management in the Humanities conferences in 2020 and 2021 at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) and subsequent special issues in IDEAH: Interdisciplinary Digital Engagement in Arts and Humanities (2020 and 2021), organizers hosted a third conference on this theme in 2022 at DHSI. As in the past, it was held virtually. Participants pre-recorded their talks and a question and answer period was hosted over Zoom. The conference was well attended. This special issue with five papers flows from the conference submissions.


As digital humanities (DH) projects grow in size, scope, and complexity, scholars often find themselves to be “accidental managers” (Maddox Abbott and Laskowski; Revels). They have responsibilities that include coordinating and collaborating with teams of researchers, librarians, students, programmers, and others as well as managing tasks, and financial and other project resources. Despite the growing number of team projects in the field, these project leads still often lack the necessary training and skills to undertake this work (Cervone; Croxall; Leon; Poole; Siemens et al.).

So what are the options to ensure that projects are accomplished successfully? Though a tool employed in business (Barnes et al.; Eriksson et al.; Köster; Winston and Hoffman), project management offers some potential to effectively coordinate efforts on team DH projects through specialized tools and techniques. However, some hesitation to use them exists (Ermolaev et al.) which must be overcome. Efforts to do this raise some questions which were explored at the 2022 conference and in subsequent papers. Among others, these included

  • What are the best ways to use project management in projects?

  • How can students be managed within a project management framework?

  • What does project management look like in the age of COVID-19?

  • And ultimately, what can we learn from the experience of others?


The articles in this issue of IDEAH are varied and approach project management from a variety of perspectives, adding to our understanding of the application of these tools and techniques to the humanities generally and DH specifically.

In “Utilizing Innovative Project Management Technologies to Set Virtual Work Boundaries,” Samantha Arpas and Dellannia Segreti explore the use of digital technologies to continue work on the Italian–Canadian Foodways project during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent need for remote work. However, these technologies came with their own challenges which the team needed to negotiate to keep students engaged in the research tasks.

Hanwen Dong explores the use of project management processes from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) to work with a student intern on a video production project in “Supervising a Student Intern to Create Videos for the Library with a Project Management Approach.” The use of these processes meant that the student intern was able to produce the videos in a timely manner even with the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many teams to re-evaluate their project management priorities to ensure that project work can continue while preserving the well-being and professional development of team members. Elizabeth Grumbach and Erica O’Neil explored ways to do this as their team produced the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Meeting and Channel Zed in a virtual environment, as discussed in their article “On the Transformative Power of Project Management, Livestreaming, and Zombies.”

Continuing on the theme associated with students and project management, Elena de la Varga and Øyvind Eide consider the way that project management tools and methods, particularly Agile project management, can assist undergraduate students with their digital humanities projects in “From Theory to Practice: How Project Management Tools and Methods Can Help Students to Organize Their Projects.” Of particular note, students could be trained in both Agile and traditional project management techniques at the beginning of their projects to ensure that they are accomplished in a timely and successful manner.

Finally, in “From ‘Taking Orders’ to Being a ‘Self-starter’: Research Assistants and Postdoctoral Fellows’ Skill Development in Large Collaborative Research Projects,” I (Lynne Siemens) examine the lived experiences of research assistants and postdoctoral fellows in the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) project. These individuals had very positive experiences and were able to gain valuable skills, knowledge, and competencies by working on this project. Actively giving students and postdoctoral fellows opportunities to gain these is a model that more projects should consider.

Works Cited

Barnes, T. A., et al. “Managing Collaborative R&D Projects Development of a Practical Management Tool.” International Journal of Project Management, vol. 24, no. 5, 2006, pp. 395–404,

Cervone, Frank. “How Not to Run a Digital Library Project.” OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives, vol. 20, no. 4, 2004, pp. 162–166,

Croxall, Brian. “12 Basic Principles of Project Management.” ProfHacker, 3 Mar. 2011,

Eriksson, Mikael et al. “How to Manage Complex, Multinational R&D Projects Successfully.” Engineering Management Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, 2002, pp. 53–60, doi: 10.1080/10429247.2002.11415163.

Ermolaev, Natalia et al. “Project Management for the Digital Humanities.” DH2018,

Köster, Kathrin. International Project Management. Sage, 2010.

Leon, Sharon M. “Project Management for Humanists.” #alt-academy, 2011,

Maddox Abbott, Jennifer A., and Mary S. Laskowski. “So Many Projects, So Few Resources: Using Effective Project Management in Technical Services.” Collection Management, vol. 39, no. 2–3, 2014, pp. 161–176,

Poole, Alex H. “‘A Greatly Unexplored Area’: Digital Curation and Innovation in Digital Humanities.” Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 68, no. 7, 2017, pp. 1772–1781,

Revels, Ira. “Managing Digital Projects: ‘Accidental’ Project Managers Can Benefit from the Following Useful Tips.” American Libraries, vol. 41, no. 4, 2010, pp. 48–50.

Siemens, Lynne et al. “‘Opportunities to Leverage the Expertise of Multi-Disciplinary Participants’: Defining Digital Library Project Teams.” BooksOnline’09 Workshop: 2nd Workshop on Research Advances in Large Digital Book Collections, Corfu, Greece, 2009.

Winston, Mark D., and Tara Hoffman. “Project Management in Libraries.” Journal of Library Administration, vol. 42, no. 1, 2005, pp. 51–61,

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