May 21, 2022

University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon U. Researchers Redevelop Software For Academic Publishing

From the University of Pittsburgh:

Benjamin Ogrodnik said he is often frustrated when traditional publication methods he uses are unable to include films and project methodology as part of the final product.

“A finished article is just a really refined argument. The story is in the creation of it,” Ogrodnik said. “There is so much I have to leave out, like conversations, memories and interviews.”

There may soon be a new publication method available for scholars, allowing people like Ogrodnik — a film studies grad student — to store the entire process of a published project from start to finish. This ongoing project — called “Digits” — plans to push scholarly publishing away from PDF format to better display it on the web, keeping it easily accessible and relevant.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded four researchers at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University a $60,000 grant to support the Digits project — a proposed solution to the struggles that come with publishing digital media projects, such as not being able to archive online sources and easily present research methods.

The main purpose of Digits is to use software containers — programs that are self-contained and can easily run on different computers — as an efficient way to store all the documents, media and sources associated with a digital research project.


Digits would allow scholars to easily start and publish their work using online infrastructure with more benefits than traditional publishing methods. According to Matt Burton, a visiting assistant professor at Pitt from the University of Michigan and Digits team member, users will be able to choose a template from a number of options and create their own content, writings, pictures and graphs, combine it all and publish it in the Digits ecosystem.

“It would be a lot easier to do it with a digit rather than doing it from scratch,” Burton said.

Read the Complete Article (929 words)

See Also: CMU, Pitt Receive Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant To Plan Platform for Digital Scholarship (via CMU)

In addition to the four principal researchers, a project advisory board has been established. The board includes Dan Cohen, director of the Digital Public Library of America; Andrew Odewahn, chief technology officer of O’Reilly Media; Sharon Leon, director of public projects at the Center for History and New Media; and Martin Paul Eve, founding editor of the Open Library of the Humanities.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.