Main Sections

Section 5-3

Some questions to ask when working with scholars:

  • Why is this project important? 
  • Who is your audience?
  • Who are your stakeholders? 
  • Who are the key partners?
  • Who will host this project? 
  • Who will sustain this project? 
  • Is this strictly a digital project, or is there a print or other physical component (like an exhibit or installation) involved?1 

Having scholars explain the importance of a project–whether that be cultural revitalization, community capacity-building, revealing an injustice to gain redress, or some other outcome–can help to bring the audience and stakeholders into focus. Many times the audience and stakeholders are commingled and will be key participants in fundraising and determining what kind of publications are desired. Taking the example of the Brier-Wizinsky project “I’m Still Surviving,” the women who told their stories were simultaneously partners, audience, and stakeholders. Their desire for tangible objects such as books and exhibitions in addition to the website drove some of the decisions made by the scholars working on the project. As Brier noted, publicly engaged work has to be all about the public partners involved.

Like understanding the partners, audience, and stakeholders, understanding the social support and funding for the project is crucial. While some scholars, projects, and libraries are popular and well-funded, others are underfunded or struggle to find support beyond the stakeholder groups. Identifying what funding sources are available, the outputs scholars and partners desire to create, and the ways in which the library may be positioned to assist in the project is foundational and should be established as clearly as possible from the outset. While online alternatives to government and foundation grants, like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and others, exist, they are often difficult to execute and rely on a great deal of publicity and networking to succeed. 

The answers to these questions can help you to assist the scholarly and public partners identify the project needs, as well as ensuring that all participants’ interests are addressed and that the outcome fulfills the goals set out by the project’s creators. It’s also important to discuss project values at the start, a topic we turn to in Section 6.

  1. Adapted from: Eyman, Douglas, and Cheryl Ball. “Everything Is Rhetoric: Design, Editing, and Multimodal Scholarship.” Behind the Curtain of Scholarly Publishing: Editors in Writing Studies, Utah State University Press, Logan, UT, 2022. []

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

Last updated 2023-04-21.