Engage More Deeply with Technology

Doctoral programs should actively encourage students to test and develop new tools and techniques for the study of literature and languages. They should also create opportunities for students to reflect critically on inherited notions of scholarship in the light of digital methods and digitally mediated collaborative work.

Some doctoral students will benefit from in-depth technological training that builds their capacity to design and develop research software. Some will require familiarity with database structures or with digitization standards to facilitate the representation and critical editing of documents and cultural artifacts online. Still others will need to add statistical literacy to their portfolios. Still others will need to understand the opportunities and implications of methods like distant reading and text mining. Programs should therefore link technology training to student research questions, supporting this training as they would language learning or archival research and partnering where appropriate outside the department to match students with relevant mentors or practicum experiences. Because all doctoral students will need to learn to compose in multimodal online platforms, to evaluate new technologies independently, and to navigate and construct digital research archives, mastery of basic digital humanities tools and techniques should be a goal of the methodological training offered by every department.

This is not solely a matter of the application of new methods to research and writing. At stake is also increasingly sophisticated thinking about the use of technology in teaching. Future undergraduates will bring new technological expectations and levels of social media fluency to the classroom, and their teachers—today’s doctoral students—must be prepared to meet them with versatility and confidence. Students who understand the workings of analytic tools and the means of production of scholarly communication in the twenty-first century will be better able to engage technology critically and use it to its fullest scholarly and pedagogical potential.

[Next recommendation: Reimagine the Dissertation]