New MLA Guidelines on Digital Authorship and IT Support


This week, the Modern Languages Association‘s Committee on Information Technology released updates to two 2000-era guidelines that will interest many ProfHacker readers: one on authoring digital resources, and another on how institutions might support humanities IT work.

  • The “Guidelines for Authors of Digital Resources” does not try to explain how to markup a web page, or code a mobile app. Instead, it aims to “help authors create resources that can be easily discovered and used, fairly evaluated, and adequately cited.” It reminds authors about important issues such as accessibility, privacy, and security, while also providing guidance about giving credit, providing for fair use, types of metadata to include, and more.
  • The “Guidelines for Information Technology Access and Support for the Modern Languages” has suggestions about three related, yet distinct areas: what resources are appropriate for scholars and teachers in the modern languages, and how to govern those resources. It also reminds scholars that with IT access comes responsibility. I particularly like three of these guidelines: first, the reminder that “adapting to and adopting new IT is a nontrivial task”; second, the recognition that innovative work often comes at the edges of what’s officially supported; and third, the injunction on scholars to “experiment with new technologies.”

(Disclosure: Brian and I are both on this committee, and Kathleen is one of the MLA staff liaisons. Guest author extraordinaire Bethany Nowviskie currently chairs the committee, too!)

Photo “Finally” by Flickr user kennymatic / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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