Main Sections

Section 3-1

Example: “On the Line.”

On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs is an open-access, born-digital, book-in-progress by Jack Dougherty and contributors that explores the relationships between housing, schooling inequities, and suburbanization in Connecticut. Acknowledging what has still yet to be written and/or fully understood within this rich history, principal author Dougherty invites readers to contribute to the project’s maps and provides tools to teachers and researchers to explore unanswered questions. By making publicly accessible his GitHub databases, in-progress Google Docs, and various brainstorming notes within the text, Dougherty highlights the range of messy processes typical of highly collaborative and community-based research. This approach also lets readers engage with this research in a range of formats.


See: On the Line/About

Openness and Community Access

“As educators, we believe that knowledge becomes more valuable when it is easily discoverable and accessible, not hidden behind password-protected paywalls. Moreover, the liberating power of history—and civil rights history in particular—should be freely available, especially for the communities of people who lived these stories.”

Empowering Readers of All Levels

“Rather than simply report our results, we describe our discovery process, so that others may expand upon, or even challenge our findings, in future works. We also strived to explain new concepts and make the text accessible for younger students and residents of the Hartford region.”

Comprehensive and Interconnected Knowledge

“…the web platform allows us to embed digital evidence on the page, and to link directly to external resources located elsewhere. As a result, this book delivers a more comprehensive, coherent, and connected work of scholarship than what was previously possible in print-only publications, or scattered online journal articles and blog posts, at no cost to the reader.”


On The Line blends the best aspects of conventional publishing and web innovation. The main narrative still looks and feels like a scholarly book, divided into chapters and backed up by endnotes. But the web platform allows us to embed digital evidence on the page, and to link directly to external resources located elsewhere.” — From On the Line/About the Book

This scholar-led, multi-authored project follows standard historical methods in its research and the form of the book, but it exceeds those limits in making both its process and its data public and accessible. Notably, the lead author is a tenured professor with other, more conventional publications in his CV. Trinity College students and alumni, as well as staff at the college library’s Map and Geographic Information Center, are contributing authors. And anyone can choose to be involved in the research by using the project’s tools or uploading or downloading data. Daugherty and his co-authors chose not to work with a traditional publisher, instead making the text available on a website. They describe their process and technical choices on the website. The text of On the Line is copyrighted by the authors and freely distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The interactive charts and maps in this book are copyrighted by Jack Dougherty and contributors, and freely shared under an MIT license, with the open-source code available at the project’s GitHub repository.

This OER was supported by a grant from the Scholarly Communication Notebook.

Last updated 2023-04-21.