Call for Digital Scholarly Edition for New Publication Series

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN)
contact email: 

The Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN) at the University of Illinois Library is launching a new publication series for digital scholarly editions of literary works. A beta version of the first title in the series will be released for feedback from the scholarly community in 2021, and a CFP for the second title is below. The editor(s) of the title chosen in response to the CFP will receive two semesters of graduate research assistant support to facilitate work on the edition (in addition to consultation support from the IOPN publishing team). For more information, see the announcement for the series at https://iopn.library.illinois.edu/2020/12/15/iopneditionscfp/

CFP: Digital Critical Edition for a Text Recently in the Public Domain

The Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN) requests proposals from scholars interested in creating a digital scholarly edition, with particular interest in a literary text that has recently come into the public domain or will do so by January 2022 in the United States (i.e., first published in the United States between 1923 – 1926). Editions of texts by members of underrepresented groups are particularly welcome, including texts related to the Harlem Renaissance. The resulting edition will be published as the second title in a new series of digital scholarly editions published at IOPN under the Windsor & Downs Press imprint.

The writer of the successful proposal will receive two semesters of research assistant support at 33% time to support the project, funded by a library strategic initiative grant in partnership with the University of Illinois Department of English. The RA appointment would take place in fall 2021/spring 2022, with a goal of having a “beta” version of the digital publication prepared to share with the public for feedback at the end of the RA appointment or shortly after. The RA will be staffed by a graduate student in the Department of English at the University of Illinois.

Details follow related to the requirements for the edition and RA appointment, and how to express interest.

Principles and Minimal Criteria for IOPN Digital Editions

While there are a wide variety of types of digital edition projects, we particularly seek scholarly digital editions in the vein of “critical editions.” Such editions facilitate further teaching and research by providing a reliable version of a particular text with appropriate critical apparatus, including accounting for variants between different published editions (i.e., the text as it appeared in periodicals vs in a book format). The edition should provide a way into the text that encourages readers to go deeper into its production, reception, and constitutive versions, and offer readers a way through the text and out again into its social context. While the shape of digital scholarly editions varies widely and it is expected the nature of the work and the primary source material will drive the project, in most cases IOPN anticipates features as described below.

  • A digital edition should offer at minimum one full text reading view that minimizes the distraction of the critical apparatus. IOPN digital editions will also provide facsimile digitized images of the original published versions as referents to the original historical documents, but the edition provides its own reading text. Other views of the text typically show variants between the published versions to show how the text was changed by the author, publisher, or other agents. Known unpublished variants may also be accounted for in the edition if the researcher can secure the necessary permissions for use of unpublished material that remains protected by copyright.
  • IOPN editions typically will include additional related primary source material as context for interpretation, with some explication. These may involve book reviews, documentation of historical/cultural references, or other primary sources that give insight into the production or reception of the work. Typically, editors provide a short biography of the author and other key figures such as illustrators as applicable, and a short editorial essay explaining the editorial principles used in producing the edition and challenges particular to the work and its publication history.
  • IOPN digital editions may include specific digital features that relate to the content of the text and are determined by the editor depending on the timeframe of production. For example, a text with many locations may be accompanied by an interactive map. Depending on the nature of the edition, a simplified print-on-demand version may be published as well to facilitate additional use.

Evaluation Criteria

Priority for the selection of the text for the edition will based on the following criteria:

  • Published in the United States between 1923-26 (inclusive) preferred.
  • Lack of an existing in-print scholarly edition for this text.
  • Existence of multiple original published/unpublished versions of the text that will be used to produce the edition, which accounts for differences between the versions. However, editions where only one published version of the text exists may be considered if the text is fully out of print and there is a clear scholarly rationale for importance and the utility of an edition approach, or if the currently available print copy is clearly insufficient for teaching and research for reasons explained in the application (including that the current printed edition misrepresents the text in important ways).
  • Availability of existing print copies of all key versions from the previous bullet, particularly print copies which may be used for digitization. Available print copies in the collections of the University of Illinois Library are particularly helpful to facilitate this process. Alternately, if a text has already been digitized and the digitized copy is not restricted by a vendor license as a condition of access, that may be used.
  • Ability of IOPN platforms or interoperable tools to meet the needs of the specifically digital components of the edition. IOPN staff can advise on this issue if the researcher is not aware of what digital tools are available.
  • A work by an individual from an underrepresented group will be strongly preferred.

Graduate Research Assistant

The researcher(s) for the selected project will receive two semesters of graduate research assistant support at 33% time (approximately 13.2 hours/week), staffed by a graduate student in the Department of English at the University of Illinois. It is anticipated that the RA will spend substantial time in the first semester on text preparation activities (for example, OCR correction of the digitized copies) and on building the publication in the IOPN publication platforms during the second semester. IOPN staff will train the RA on these activities and/or direct them to instructions and documentation. The remainder of the RA’s time can be used for related primary and secondary source research, and exploring/developing digital features unique to the needs of the edition (such as interactive digital maps), or other related project work as directed by the editor of the edition. A draft description of the RA appointment is attached. It is required that the research assistant be given an appropriate production credit for their work on this project, appropriate to listing on a CV, on a credits page.

Technical Component

The digital edition will be built in one of IOPN’s publication platforms, most likely Scalar or Pressbooks (IOPN also provides the option of Omeka S). No prior familiarity with these platforms is required; however, the editor and the research assistant will need to learn how to use them to work on the publication. Comfort with using basic WYSIWYG interfaces such as in Course Management Systems, WordPress, or MS-Word will facilitate use of the platforms, along with a willingness to experiment and learn new technologies with tutorials. IOPN staff will assist with troubleshooting and identifying solutions for particularly difficult problems within the capacity of the platforms, but it is the responsibility of the researcher and RA to produce the edition in the digital platform. Computer programming is not needed.

Application Instructions

Interested researchers should submit a CV and a proposal to Dan Tracy, Head, Scholarly Communication and Publishing at the University of Illinois Library (dtracy@illinois.edu) with the following:

  1. The title of the work that serves as the basis of the edition.
  2. A list of the key published/unpublished versions of the text that would be included in the edition, with links to the University of Illinois online catalog for any identified local copies or to other locations for existing digitized copies.
  3. A short narrative proposal (no more than one page) that explains how a critical edition of the text would make a scholarly contribution, and provide an overview of key editorial content that the scholar hopes to include.

Questions about the edition expectations and process can be directed to the same address. We encourage applicants to reach out to let us know if they are planning a submission, and are happy to look at draft proposals.

Deadline for consideration: February 15, 2021.