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The College Art Association (CAA), working jointly with the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), has released its Guidelines for the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship in Art and Architectural History for Promotion and Tenure. The guidelines are the result of a Task Force convened by the two associations of ten members from the academic community with experience in digital research, publication, and/or scholarly communications and administration. Established by the Board of Directors in October 2014 and supported by funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this joint task force of CAA and SAH was co-chaired by DeWitt Godfrey, president, CAA and professor of art and art history, Colgate University; and Kenneth Breisch, SAH president and assistant professor, School of Architecture, University of Southern California.

See the SAH announcement.

The project methodology was developed through a collaborative process involving the Task Force, consultant, researcher, and representatives from CAA and SAH. Research components included results from surveys of CAA and SAH members and department chairs, a similar questionnaire for graduate students, interviews with scholars and administrators, research on existing disciplinary and institutional evaluation guidelines, and a review of relevant literature. Alice Lynn McMichael, PhD candidate in Byzantine art history and digital fellow at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and Raym Crow, principal at Chain Bridge Group served as researcher and consultant.

In addition to a review of current guidelines and current literature on the topic, the researcher was charged with balancing broad survey data with more in-depth discussions of topics that resonate with evaluators of digital work. To this end, interviews were conducted with constituents from sixteen institutions across the United States that produce digital work regularly in art and/or architectural history. Institutions were either public and private and research-intensive or teaching-focused. Interviewees at those institutions had varying academic ranks and included department members, librarians, provosts, deans, chairs, and directors of humanities centers or similar.

Highlights from surveys from CAA and SAH members and interviews include the following:

  • Most CAA respondents, across all professional ranks, have never used data gathering and imaging tools (83%), data analysis and visualization tools (80%), three-dimensional modeling (75%), digital storage and preservation tools (73%), and geospatial analysis tools (65%).
  • Many characteristics of digital resources were generally valued as important, with the highest importance placed on permanent archiving, documentation of the resource, and ease of use; and relatively less importance on the availability of underlying data, financial sustainability, and permanent citation.
  • Graduate students report the highest confidence in evaluating digital scholarship.
  • Less than 4 percent of total respondents knew of existing evaluative criteria for digital scholarship in their departments.
  • The largest barrier to digital scholarship is lack of access to training.

Read the full Guidelines here. An essay, “Case Studies and Examples for Evaluating Digital Scholarship”  by Michelle Millar Fisher, a task force member, provides background information on evaluating digital resources and can be found on the College Art Association website.

Members of the Task Force included:

  • Suzanne Preston Blier, Allen Whitehall Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
  • Kenneth Breisch, SAH President, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Southern California, and Cochair of Task Force
  • Linda Downs (ex officio), Executive Director, College Art Association
  • Gabrielle Esperdy, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Editor of SAH Archipedia
  • Michelle Miller Fisher, PhD Candidate, Art History, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, and Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art
  • Pamela M. Fletcher, Professor of Art History, Chair of Art Department, and Codirector of Digital and Computational Studies Initiative, Bowdoin College
  • DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President, Professor of Art and Art History, Colgate University, and Cochair of Task Force
  • Anne Collins Goodyear, Codirector, Bowdoin College Museum of Art
  • Paul Jaskot, Professor, History of Art and Architecture, DePaul University, and Andrew W. Mellon Professor, CASVA
  • Bruce M. Mackh, Director, Arts and Cultural Management Program, Michigan State University
  • Tara McPherson, Associate Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
  • Abby Smith Rumsey, Former Director, Scholarly Communication Institute, University of Virginia
  • Pauline Saliga (ex officio), Executive Director, Society of Architectural Historians
  • Ann Whiteside, Librarian and Assistant Dean of Information Services, Harvard University

About CAA

The College Art Association is dedicated to providing professional services and resources for artists, art historians, and students in the visual arts. CAA serves as an advocate and a resource for individuals and institutions nationally and internationally by offering forums to discuss the latest developments in the visual arts and art history through its Annual Conference, publications, exhibitions, website, and other programs, services, and events. CAA focuses on a wide range of issues, including education in the arts, freedom of expression, intellectual-property rights, cultural heritage, preservation, workforce topics in universities and museums, and access to networked information technologies. Representing its members’ professional needs since 1911, CAA is committed to the highest professional and ethical standards of scholarship, creativity, criticism, and teaching. Learn more at

About SAH

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs. Learn more at