Products, Prizes, and Media Coverage: A New Crowdsourcing Effort from the NEH

February 27, 2012
Screenshot of database form fields to search for NEH-funded projects

Over the course of the last 46 years as a humanities research agency, the NEH has funded thousands of grants. These grants often lead to amazing projects, including publications and “products” of all sorts. For example, NEH grants lead to award-winning books, films, journal articles, websites, dictionaries, conference papers, summer institutes, software programs, radio programs and so on. We thought it would be terrific to create a database of all these products and tie them back to the grants that funded them.

To that end, a few months back, we launched a new effort to “crowdsource” this information from our grantees. That is, we ask our current and previous grantees to log into our eGMS system (our web-based grants system) to give us full citations for all the products that came out of their grants. We also ask them to give us citations for media coverage about their project or prizes they may have won. The goal is to allow the public to not only search for information about the grants themselves, but to see the actual products that the grants led to. 

Just in the first few months, we have already received a few thousand product, prize, and media coverage entries. More are pouring in every day. (Here’s an example, another example and a third example.) If you are an NEH grantee, we urge you to log into our eGMS system and tell us about the stuff that came out of your grant. Any questions? Just get in touch. And here’s a link to our Funded Projects Query Form which you can use to search our past grants and view the associated products, as they are entered by the grantees.

Thanks to all our grantees (and thanks to my amazing staff in the Office of Information Resources Management for creating the back-end software to make this possible!).

Below is a copy of a form letter I’ve been sending out to current and past NEH grantees to ask for their help in crowdsourcing this information:


Dear Project Director,


My name is Brett Bobley. I am the Chief Information Officer for the National Endowment for the Humanities and I am writing to current and former NEH grantees to ask for your assistance.


I am quite pleased to announce that the NEH is debuting a new computer database for collecting information about the products, prizes, and media coverage for NEH-funded grant projects like yours. Let me explain what I mean here. Most NEH grants lead to products - we are broadly defining this to include things like books, journal articles, websites, documentary films, museum exhibitions, conferences, workshops, computer software, or even new buildings or equipment. Some NEH grant projects also receive prizes-a Bancroft prize, an Emmy, or an award from a scholarly society. Some NEH grants also receive media coverage-a review of a book you've published, an article in a newspaper, or a radio interview.


This new database will better enable the NEH to demonstrate the impact of our grants to the public. It will illustrate the connection between grant investments and real-world outcomes. In addition, we also feel this database will be of great utility to scholars and students, who will be able to come to the NEH website and see not only the title and description of your grant, but also find links to your books, articles, films, or other products of your project. It will also assist future NEH peer reviewers who can look back at your past grants to see what came out of them.


Our plan is to ask you (and all future grantees) to use our new online system to keep us informed of any products, prizes, or media coverage for your project. To kick things off, we are going back several years and asking past grantees as well as current ones to take part in this effort.


Sometime in the next few weeks, you will be receiving an e-mail from the NEH with details on how to log into our system and provide details of any products, prizes, or media coverage for your grants. I urge you to take a few minutes to do this. If your products, prizes, or media coverage have links on the web (e.g. your book may have a page on your publisher's website) please include that, as it will make it easier for others to find your work. You will also be able to come back to our online system in the future to add new products or prizes that may come at a later date.


Thank you very much for your incredible work - it is very much appreciated. We really feel that this new system will help demonstrate the importance of your work. Should you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to get in touch.