Digital humanities projects often require people to work collaboratively with others in a more defined and extended way than they have in other humanities work. While determining what kind of help you might need and finding people to collaborate with is specific to the kind of project you’re doing, there are some basic things you can do that will help develop a solid team and smooth the process of working together.
First, think carefully about what kind of working relationship you need or want. Many content experts are used to directing their own projects, working completely on their own timelines and with their own priorities, but this may not be possible or even advisable in digital work. Digital tools bring their own critical capabilities and limitations to your work, and working collaboratively with someone with different content expertise or technical experience can help you use your tools effectively, avoid misunderstandings that might affect your interpretation, and think about how your project fits into a wider conversation outside your own field. Naturally, though, there will also be people who only work on part of a larger project, or students who work on the project, who may have more limited roles.
Some best practices for making roles and responsibilities clear at the beginning of your project include:
Make sure each team member has a defined, explicitly stated set of responsibilities. This should also include who has the authority to add people to the team, give directions, or change parts of the plan. Write this down and keep it with your documentation.
Discuss how much time, and on what schedule, different team members can commit to the project. Make sure to discuss how and when you will meet to check in on progress.
Go over the workflow, once it is defined, and discuss who is responsible for each phase and how they will get their part to the people responsible for other parts.
Discuss or explain what sorts of pay, credit, and other benefits are available for each person working on the project. This is especially important when working with staff who may not get additional pay or career benefits for working on projects (like librarians or academic technical consultants). Be explicit about how team members, including students, will be credited in publications or other presentations for their work and who will have ownership over things produced as part of the project.
Once you begin the project:
Keep communication open. Your plans will change and there will be things you couldn’t foresee, including new opportunities and positive changes.
Set up regular meeting times to keep people accountable and catch problems early.
Keep documentation in a central place and make sure everyone knows how to update it and what should be included.