Defining Your Project: A DHLab Toolkit
To get started on a project, it is important to define core project goals with team members and stakeholders. Prioritizing time early on to become familiar with your data set also helps to clarify the project’s viability, scope, and constraints.
- Project Planning & Design Guide – This step-by-step guide for Rapid Prototyping Grant projects gives an overview of how a project might move from big ideas to product implementation and user testing. While not all projects are built the same way, this can help project leaders better understand how to manage resources and expectations to meet their goals within a given timeline.
- Lean Canvas – This exercise focuses on establishing the project vision beginning with the high level concepts, the research question, as well as the audience and goals.
- User Analysis – This will walk you through user experience exercises for defining user stories and mapping out the scenarios of their engagement with your content.
- Ideation – These are designed to translate your user scenarios into a series of sketches that will lay the foundation for the MVP and can be very useful for collaborating with designers and developers. Ideation sets the stage for more user-centered design collaboration that delivers wireframe mockups illustrating the "minimum viable product" (MVP), or the minimal set of functionality that completes the project's fundamental requirements.
- Project Charter – This MVP is a distillation of big ideas into a focused set of production goals and deliverables. It also serves as the basis of the Project Charter, a signed agreement that articulates the production workflow, roles and responsibilities of collaborators, timeline, and budgeting of resources towards these deliverables, and marks the transition of the project from its planning phase to implementation.
- Project Closeout – The production process includes workflows for design, content, coding and analysis, culminating in a protoype. User testing is one way to assess the prototype's usability. Following final adjustments to the interface, a Project Closeout meeting is an opportunity for all stakeholders to review lessons learned and to articulate the maintenance and long-term sustainability of the project.
For support with project planning and design, please stop by the DHLab during Office Hours to ask questions or try an exercise.
Identifying Project Timeline
Collaborators on a digital humanities project should have a shared, manageable timeline within which to complete the work. It’s therefore helpful to sketch out your major project milestones along with the dates by which you need to achieve those milestones.
If you’re working toward a conference presentation, are on a grant cycle, or otherwise have a date by which you need to wrap up all project work, try working backwards with your timeline to determine whether your full project vision can be achieved in your available time. List all of your project goals along with conservative estimations of the time required for each — build in some time for project iteration and back-up plans. If you need help estimating timelines or identifying your project’s core milestones, stop by the Digital Humanities Lab so we can discuss your project together!
Finding On-Campus Collaborators
Many digital humanities projects are the result of generative, cross-discplinary collaborations. Reach out to people from different fields with varied interests and skillsets to see if they might be interested in collaborating. To identify potential partners, you might email relevant listservs and/or contact people directly.
If you’re looking for Yale students who might be interested in joining your project, we recommend sending out calls of interest to department registrars on campus. For instance, if you would like to work with a programmer, you could send a job call to the Computer Science registrar. Or if you’re looking for a literary dataset to visualize, you might email the English Department listserv.
The Digital Humanities Lab can also post job calls to our Student Jobs page.
How do I get started?
If you're new to digital humanities and are interested in starting a project, stop by the Franke Family Digital Humanities Laboratory in Sterling Memorial Library during our Office Hours.
We also highly recommend looking at our Project Planning and Design Toolkit to learn about the steps involved in a typical project life cycle. In addition to projects at Yale, please check out projects at other digital humanities centers, including:
- Stanford's Literary Lab
- Northeastern's NULab for Maps, Texts, and Networks
- Maryland's Institute for Tecnology in the Humanities
- DHCommons Projects
In addition to on-campus support, there are also off-campus and online resources that you might try. The following programs all offer opportunities for researchers to learn different digital humanities methods and theoretical approaches:What we offer