7.0113 Comments Requested: Funders' Draft Principles for

Wed, 18 Aug 1993 20:14:23 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0113. Wednesday, 18 Aug 1993.

Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1993 16:06:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Funders' Draft Principles for Digitization Projects - Comments

I have been asked to circulated this document to HUMANIST. Some
HUMANISTs may already have seen it on other lists. Although it is now
past the noted deadline for comments, I am told that the group meets
next on Monday 23 August and comments will be welcome up to that time.

Please send comments directly to Nanch Sahli at una@cu.nih.gov.

Susan Hockey
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
Rutgers and Princeton Universities

These "principles" are being circulated for comment to the
community of investigators who seek NEH, NHPRC, and NSF funding for
proposals that involve the digitization of scholarly resources.
Please convey your comments by August 12 to Nanch Sahli (NHPRC) at

The "Federal Funders" Group thanks you for your assistance.



This document is a work in process. For nearly a year,
representatives from several Federal funding
agencies that make grants relating to archival, library, and
other primary research materials~the Department of Education,
the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the
National Science Foundation~have been meeting as the
"Federal Funders Group" to discuss common concerns relating
to the use of electronic media for the preservation of and
access to these materials. As a result of these discussions, the
group decided that a collaborative strategy should be developed
that would include a common set of principles that could be
used by applicants to the various funding programs in these
agencies supporting work with archival and library resources,
as well as by reviewers of proposals submitted to these
agencies. Fostering consistency between agencies was seen by
the group as being especially important, since an increasing
number of projects derive support from multiple sources.

The current draft document is the result of the collaboration of
group members with several leaders in the digitization field:
Patricia Battin, President, Commission on Preservation and
Access, Paul Evan Peters, Executive Director, Coalition for
Networked Information, and Clifford Lynch, Director, Division
of Library Automation, Office of the President, University of


Federal funding agents in education, the social sciences, the
humanities, and the arts, among other fields, are receiving
more and more grant proposals for projects that involve the
use of information technology, particularly to capture and
make available surrogates of primary research collections and
primary research collections themselves. In addition, many
of these funding agencies with to consider establishing or
focusing existing programs to support projects of this
type. The reviewers of such grant proposals should be
provided with certain basic types of information about the
criteria informing associated projects if they are to render their
judgements and to offer their recommendations in a timely,
consistent, and high-quality manner. Applicants, in turn,
should know the areas and criteria of evaluation that reviewers
are using when they evaluate such grant proposals. The goal
is to improve the responsiveness and to enhance the quality of
the process by which grant proposals for projects that involve
the use of information technology are reviewed and disposed
by federal funding agencies.


The principles that are set forth below reflect the understanding
that what's needed in this area is a guiding, not prescriptive,
approach. It is imperative to avoid hasty adoption of
technical standards that will be soon left behind by advances
in the understanding and use of enabling technologies.
Instead of adopting and enforcing standards for technologies
and practices that are in a rapid state of evolution, it is
important to espouse "life cycle management" techniques by
which digitized materials are created and managed in a manner
that anticipates the need for periodic technological refreshment
and conversion. It is also imperative to focus on basic
information that aids the judgement of reviewers and decision
makers, rather than on attempting to regulate or control
investigators, and to rely upon the sense of reviewers
regarding whether a given project proposal reflects knowledge
of and facility with rapidly evolving technological and
standardization processes.


Not all of the types of basic information listed in the
following are appropriate for all types of grant proposals in
education, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts,
among other fields, for projects that involve the use of
information technology, particularly to capture and make
available surrogates of primary research collections and
primary research collections themselves. Accordingly, the
types of basic information listed in the following have been
created to help guide individual and collaborative federal
funding agency discussions regarding precisely which types of
basic information are appropriate for specifically which types
of grant proposals.

1. Investigators should provide context for their proposed
efforts and should demonstrate awareness and understanding of
comparable efforts by citing the relevant literature and by
contrasting their efforts with those of others.

2. Investigators should specify a set of tasks that is
clearly adequate to the objectives and outcomes of their
proposed project. They also should specify a division of
labor (including consideration of collaborative efforts,
service bureaus, and other creative strategies) adequate to
the accomplishment of the tasks.

3. Investigators should present a technical plan that makes
clear whether they will adopt existing standards or innovate
new practices in at least the following areas, as applicable:

3.1 What is the nature of the materials to be digitized, how
will those materials be digitized and stored, and how will
the quality of the digitization and storage process be

3.1.1 scanned page images (at what resolution; black and
white, grey scale, or color; using what compression scheme;

3.1.2 unstructured text such as ASCII (keyboarded or

3.1.3 structured text such as SGML (keyboarded or OCRed,
and structured by what tagging scheme, e.g., TEI, etc.);

3.1.4 compound documents (CALS, ODA, MIME, or something

3.1.5 materials that are not page-oriented: e.g., audio,
video, films, and photographs; and/or,

3.1.6 something else.

3.2 How will others gain access to the digitized materials;
what terms and conditions, including copyright provisions, if
applicable, and costs, if any, will apply to each mode of
access; and, how will security, integrity, privacy, and
confidentiality be protected, as appropriate, with respect to
each mode of access?

3.2.1 magnetic tapes or diskettes;

3.2.2 CD-ROM;

3.2.3 network server, operated by the investigator or by
someone else; and/or,

3.2.5 something else.

3.3 How will knowledge of and proficiency with the digitized
materials be promoted?

3.3.1 documentary materials;

3.3.2 reference guides and tip sheets;

3.3.3 publications, speeches, and workshops;

3.3.4 support services; and/or,

3.3.5 something else.

3.4 How will intellectual access to the digitized materials
be provided and in what format(s)?

3.4.1 item control(s);

3.4.2 media header(s);

3.4.3 indexes, catalogs, and finding aids; and/or,

3.4.4 something else.

3.5 How will the preservation of the digitized materials be

3.5.1 distinction between archival and use media;

3.5.2 refreshment and migration issues and strategies;

3.5.3 disaster scenarios and plans; and/or,

3.5.4 something else.

3.6 How will the technical methods, findings, and results
(including, as appropriate, error rates, compression ratios,
costs, and the like) be disseminated?

4. Investigators should provide a budget that clearly links
requirements to the division of labor and technical plan.

5. Investigators should exhibit an understanding of the
long-term change management issues and strategies regarding
digitized primary research materials, both during their projects
and after, and they should offer observations and plans about
how best to address the risks that frame this change management