Digital Gateway
Washington University Digital Gateway


Planning a Digital Project

Digital projects provide increased accessibility, assist with teaching and research, can serve as a means of preservation, and help to highlight Washington University's unique collections.

Long-term accessibilty of digital projects requires initial planning and development of digital files as well as maintenance of digital files that may accumlate over time and need continued attention.

Scholarly Publishing is happy to assist in the planning of your project. There are many steps involved in creating a digital project; therefore it is necessary to plan the full project before jumping in. Some things to think about include: scope of the project; value of digitization; format, size, and condition of the materials to be digitized; intellectual property or copyright; metadata; funding; storage and preservation; access; the project timeline; and evaluation strategies. Before beginning a digital project, all of these things should be considered and planned for, to allow for the successful completion of the project.

Contact Scholarly Publishing about planning your digital project and please use the Project Planning Form to think about and gather as much information as possible.

  1. Scope of the project
    • How large is the project (number of items or files, length of video, etc.) ?
    • Are the materials already organized and described in some manner?

  2. Value
    • How does this project support the missions of the University?
    • How will faculty and students benefit from this project?
    • How does this project complement other projects?
    • What is the value of the content? How rare or unique are the materials?
    • What is the benefit of providing digital access?
    • What is the enduring value of a digital version of the project?

  3. Description of physical features and condition of source materials
    • What impact will digitization processes likely have on the condition of the materials to be digitized?
    • Does a copy exist elsewhere in either a physical or digital format? 
    • Is the item brittle? Torn?  Faded? Fragile?
    • Is the material in an obsolete or near obsolete format?

  4. Intellectual property considerations
    • Who owns the physical materials?
    • Who owns the intellectual property rights for the material?
    • Is the material in the public domain?
    • Does the project fall within fair use guidelines?

  5. Metadata
    • What administrative, technical, and descriptive metadata has been selected?
    • How will the metadata creation be achieved?
    • Will the chosen schema work with existing schemas in use on campus?

  6. Funding
    • What existing University resources are needed to complete this project?
    • What new equipment must be purchased to complete this project?
    • What new personnel must be hired to complete this project?
    • How will the costs of digitization and post-digitization processing be supported?
    • What aspects of the digitization work can be out-sourced?  Is out-sourcing appropriate?
    • What other departments or institutions could be partners in this project?
    • What grant funds are available to complete this project?

  7. Storage and Preservation Plan
    • How many and what kind of derivative files will be made from the master files?
    • What are the file size estimates for the master file and all derivatives?
    • What temporary and permanent storage needs does this project have?
    • What additional content will be added at a later date?

  8. Access Plan
    • What restrictions, if any, will there be to use this digital collection?
    • How will users locate this digital collection?
    • How will users navigate within this collection?  Will there be links to other collections?

  9. Projected Timeline
    • What is the timeline, including lead-time for project preparation?
    • What other timelines – e.g., grant funding cycles – should be considered?
    • What is the project completion date? Milestones and / or deliverables?
    • How will the timeline be managed?

  10. Evaluation
    • How will the success of the project be evaluated?

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