Formulating the Project’s Guiding Question

The first step in developing a digital humanities project is selecting a topic, and it may be helpful to organize your project around answering a central question.

Tips for formulating your question:

  • Ask what you are passionate about and what you enjoy spending time on.
  • Think about issues your field continually argues about. Remember, the question may not be new to your discipline, but the approach might be.
  • Know that a good research idea is more about communication than creativity. The question, as well as your approach, needs to be clear.
  • Understand that digital project ideas are built, not discovered.

A project:

  • is a sequence of related activities with a definite beginning and end.
  • is derived from a central question, issue, or problem.
  • requires resources.
  • requires an audience and/or other participants.
  • results in a product or service.

Examples of products: events (meeting, workshop, conference, symposium); research (analysis, investigation, experiment, monograph); methodologies/tools (code, website, curriculum)

Projects are about: telling a story, writing an argument, answering a question, developing a theory.

5 Parts of a Research Project:

  1. question, problem, provocation
  2. sources (primary or secondary)
  3. analytical/discovery activity
  4. audience
  5. concrete products (deliverables)

Types of Digital Humanities Projects:


From: Formulating Disciplinary Questions as Research Ideas