Creating an actionable, concrete plan for a digital scholarly project helps to clarify the need and value of the project (for yourself and for other stakeholders) and surfaces requirements and potential risks so that you are better able to anticipate and address issues. At its most basic, a project plan outlines (1) goals, (2) resources, and (3) time:
  • Goals: Why the scholarly project is needed (e.g., what problem it addresses, what change it will enact) and what the project will accomplish (e.g., metrics for success, specific deliverables that will be produced)
  • Resources: What will be required in order to accomplish the project (e.g., people and expertise, information, tools, etc.)
  • Time: When the project can start and when it must be finished, plus key milestones to meet in between

Keeping these basic components in mind and in alignment can help with thinking and communicating clearly about what a project needs in order to succeed, especially when projects build on or overlap with other work and involve collaboration with multiple stakeholders.

Anticipating needs, risks, and future transitions at the outset can help ensure a scholarly project’s sustainability. Along with how to protect intellectual property rights and private personal information, consider what technical infrastructure the scholarship relies on (i.e., hardware and software) as well as the social infrastructure required to maintain it (e.g., developers, researchers, community members).

More information and resources

  • Template: digital publishing project plan (ScholarWorks Center, Duke University)
    This project planning document has been adapted by ScholarWorks staff for use with digital publishing projects. It provides a template for thinking through and documenting key aspects at the start of a project, from resources and time to factors affecting impact and sustainability.
  • FICUS Checklist (Digital Commons, Wayne State University Libraries)
    This technical report serves as a checklist and heuristic for ensuring the sustainability of a digital publication. Questions prompt authors to consider how the resulting work will be findable, impactful, citable, usable, and sustainable (FICUS). The report also references and summarizes other useful guides and publications on the sustainability of digital publications.
  • Project Management (Bass Connections, Duke University)
    Links to project planning and management resources, including video tutorials, overview handouts, and project planning documents. Emphasis on team-based, interdisciplinary project planning and management.

For more information on the above or to consult on project planning, contact