NEH Start-Up Grant White Papers (Part I)

May 13, 2009

Numerous ODH programs (and some programs in other NEH divisions and offices) require the grantee to submit a "white paper" at the conclusion of the grant.  In ODH, we publish these white papers in our Funded Project Query Form.  In the white paper, the grantee provides a summary of the grant activities, what they learned, recommended best practices, and even what they might have done differently.  By making these white papers freely available, members of the public -- including other prospective applicants -- can learn from what has already been done and build upon it. 

In a series of posts, I'll be highlighting some of the white papers we have recently added to the library. 

Update: Part II of this series is now available.

In each case below, just click the title and then scroll down to find the "download" button to access the full report:


Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use

University of Maryland, College Park

Project Director:  Matthew Kirschenbaum


This project is about developing archival tools and best practices for preserving born-digital documents produced by contemporary authors.  Traditionally, humanists have found great scholarly value in studying the papers, correspondence, and first drafts of authors, politicians, and other historical figures.  In this white paper, the project director notes that contemporary figures compose almost all of their materials on a computer.  What challenges will this present to humanists, archivists, and librarians in the future?  This very readable paper explores many of these issues with specific case studies involving a number of leading libraries and archives.


InPhO: the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project

Indiana University, Bloomington

Project Director:  Colin Allen


This project is about the development of machine learning software to automate searching, navigating, and representing the relations among philosophical ideas, scholars, and works.  The project is using the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as a testbed.  The Stanford Encyclopedia is a very well-regarded web-based encyclopedia that includes lengthy entries written by academic philosophers from around the world. The InPhO project is creating software which analyzes the text of the encyclopedia to create new metadata describing each article -- a "dynamic ontology."  What is remarkable is that this metadata actually includes dynamically generated information about the ideas expressed in each article.  Hence, this new ontology can allow the reader to find related ideas in articles across the encyclopedia.  The potential is for a new paradigm for searching that doesn't depend on simply looking for particular words in a body of text.  In the white paper, the project director and his co-authors provide a very thorough discussion of the project, including how they are using expert input from philosophers to help train the software to provide better results.