The Digital Resources for the Humanities (DRH) Protocol

  Author: (revised MF) Date: March 2004 (revised 2004-08-23)


1. Scope of Conference

This document describes Digital Resources for the Humanities (DRH) a non-profit making organization set up for the sole purpose of holding an annual conference which promotes the creation, management, dissemination, use and preservation of high quality digital resources for the humanities.

DRH is a UK-based international conference.

The logo or brand for the conference consists of the letters "DRH" followed by digits indicating the year.

This document has been formally agreed to by representatives of the Supporting Organizations which created and ran the first four DRH conferences (Oxford 1996 and 1997, Glasgow 1998, Kings 1999). It defines a protocol for the conduct of all future conferences under this brand.

2. Organization and Governance

The DRH Conference as an institution is governed by a Standing Committee, whose members act as representatives of various Supporting Organizations. Individual conferences are run by a Programme Committee, which is appointed annually by the Standing Committee.

2.1. Supporting Organizations

The current Supporting Organizations are listed below; their current representatives are listed in Appendix 2:

Supporting Organizations are required to make some tangible commitment to the conference each year, in cash, time, or both.

New Supporting Organizations may be added (or removed) with approval of a two-thirds majority of the Standing Committee.

2.2. Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the executive authority for the DRH Conference. It is composed of

All members of the Standing Committee (including substitutes) have full voting rights. Meetings of the Standing Committee are not quorate if fewer than half the current members of the committee are present. A non-quorate meeting may not take decisions, but may make recommendations for the consideration of the whole committee. Such recommendations are effective once ratified by a two-thirds majority of the current committee membership. The normal process of ratification will be via email, with silence being taken as assent within a reasonable time period.

Additional members representing particular interests of relevance to the conference may be co-opted to serve with the agreement of two-thirds of the existing committee members.

The Chair and Secretary of the Standing Committee should be elected annually from its membership.

Membership of the Standing Committee is for a renewable term of one year.

The Standing Committee will meet at least annually to appoint members to the Programme Committee, and to review proposals to host the conference, usually in the course of the DRH conference.

Individual members of the Standing Committee may send substitutes from their Supporting Organization to meetings. Any member wishing to send a substitute should notify the Chair of the Standing Committee, preferably at least seven days prior to the meeting.

The Secretary to the Standing Committee is responsible for recording and circulating the minutes of meetings; maintaining the DRH Web site; and is a co-administrator of the email list.

2.2.1. Standing Committee Terms of Reference

To determine the structures, policies and arrangements, including the financial arrangements, for holding the series of annual conferences

To invite bids from institutions wishing to host the conference each year, and to determine which institution is to be appointed to host it

To approve the appointment of the local organiser for the conference, to advise the organiser on the arrangements for the conference, and to monitor progress

To appoint the programme committee for each conference, to advise that committee on the format of the conference, and to monitor the committee's progress

To seek from relevant organisations funding to support the activities associated with the series of conferences, and in particular for the development of a scheme of bursaries to support students attending the conferences

To oversee the arrangements to be made by the Chair of the Programme Committee and the local organiser for the publication of conference papers

To review and evaluate the success the conference each year, and to amend the arrangements and policies for future conferences in the light of that evaluation

To review annually the list of supporting organisations and the membership of the Standing Committee, and to amend the list and the membership as appropriate.

2.3. Programme Committee

The Programme Committee for a given conference should normally be appointed at the SC meeting one year before the conference is held, and at the latest in advance of the Call for Proposals for that conference.

The SC is responsible for determining the composition of the Programme Committee. It should normally include one member of the SC (often, but not necessarily, its Chair) to act as Conference Chair, one or more representatives from the site holding the conference, one of whom should act as Local Organizer, and at least three other members of the Standing Committee. The same individual may not be both Conference Chair and Local Organizer.

The Programme Committee has responsibility for determining the academic programme of the conference. Planning and running of all other aspects of the conference is the responsibility of the Local Organizer, in consultation with the Conference Chair.

The Programme Committee may choose to communicate using its own email list. The Chair of the Programme Committee should ensure regular reports are made to the Standing Committee on the progress of the Conference arrangements.

It is recommended that the Programme Committee should meet at least one face-to-face to finalize the academic programme of the conference.

3. Procedures

3.1. Bidding Process

Bids to host DRH will be solicited annually, two years in advance, and evaluated by the Standing Committee

Evaluation criteria will include:

The Protocol defined by this document must be formally accepted by a potential Local Organizer as a part of the bidding procedure.

Bids should be submitted to the Chair of the Standing Committee at least two years in advance; successful bids will be evaluated by the Standing Committee and announced at the conclusion of the DRH conference two years before hand.

3.2. Defining the Programme

The conference will typically contain a mixture of

Not all of these components need be present in each conference. It is the responsibility of the Programme Committee to agree on the mixture for a given year, and to ensure an appropriate balance amongst them. The Appendix to this document includes further, non-binding, suggestions about ways of organizing these components in a way which has been found to be successful in previous conferences.

For a given conference, a Call for Participation (CFP) will be issued in November of the year preceding the conference, specifying the components required. Preparation of the CFP is the responsibility of the Local Organiser and the Conference Chair. It may not however be published without approval by a two-thirds majority of the Programme Committee.

Proposals for posters, papers, and sessions at a conference will be evaluated by the Programme Committee, with the assistance of external reviewers as appropriate.

Special sessions or papers may be solicited by members of the Programme Committee or others, but may also be reviewed. Neither the Conference Chair nor the Local Organizer for a conference may submit a proposal, unless by invitation of the Programme Committee. Members of the Programme Committee and reviewers may submit proposals, but every effort must be made to ensure impartiality and confidentiality.

Subject to prior approval by a two-thirds majority of the Programme Committee, the Local Organizer and Programme Chair may also invite a small number (two, or exceptionally three) of plenary speakers, whose contributions will not be subject to review.

3.3. Review Process

The Conference Chair and Local Organizer will jointly assign proposals to individual reviewers taken from a list maintained by the Standing Committee. Reviewers should be asked to declare any possible conflict of interest which may affect their judgment of proposals submitted to them.

The Programme Committee will decide on a review protocol (covering such topics as the number of reviewers for each proposal, conduct of the review, default actions etc.). Some suggested guidelines are given in the Appendix to this document.

Proposals from commercial companies are welcomed, provided that they are not solely intended to promote a particular service. They should be reviewed in the same way as academic proposals. Proposals of a purely commercial or promotional nature should form part of a software demonstration or exhibition strand rather than the academic programme.

4. Conference Timetable

The Conference will normally take place in September each year, at a venue determined two years in advance. Bids to host a conference should therefore be received by the Standing Committee in sufficient time for them to be evaluated and a decision taken at the meeting held during the conference two years ahead.

The programme committee should normally be appointed one year ahead of the start of the conference. Its first business should be to agree the conference Call for Participation, which should be posted as soon as possible thereafter, normally by the end of November in the year before the conference is to be held. The CFP should specify closing dates for submissions, and the target dates for notification of acceptance.

An example timetable is given in the Appendix to this document.

5. Financial Aspects

Each DRH conference is expected to be self funding, with the host institution bearing responsibility for any deficit, and taking any surplus accruing.

A provisional outline budget should be included in the bid to host a conference, indicating the expected overall cost, and how this will be recovered from delegate fees, sponsorship, institutional contributions etc.

Delegate fees should be calculated on a cost-recovery basis. Optional extras such as social events, banquets, receptions etc. should either be separately charged or paid for out of conference sponsorship.

Where possible, Supporting Organizations should encourage the widest participation in the conference by offering bursaries for free or reduced-rate registration to their constituencies. Definition and promotion of such bursary schemes is the responsibility of the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee may elect from amongst its members an individual to take primary responsibility for developing bursary schemes and other forms of long-term sponsorship.

In principle, free registration should be offered only to a small number of invited plenary speakers, as approved by the Programme Committee. The Local Organizer may elect to offer a small number of free registrations to local personnel. Members of the Standing Committee should normally pay their own costs, including any registration fees.

The Local Organizer in conjunction with the Programme Committee should actively seek sponsorship of the conference from interested commercial and infrastructural organization. Such sponsorship may be used to defray entertainment at the conference, production of conference publications, or to provide bursaries for delegates as suggested above. All such sponsorship must be explicitly acknowledged in conference publicity and publications.

6. Publications

For each conference, there will be at least three forms of publication: a pre-conference Book of Abstracts, a web site, and a post-conference volume of selected papers.

The Local Organizer is responsible for the production in print form of a book of abstracts to be distributed to all delegates as part of the conference registration. The Local Organizer is also responsible for provision of pre-conference information in electronic form on a website linked to the main DRH website at ; this pre-conference information need not include the full text of abstracts, but should include the provisional programme and should be regularly updated during the immediate pre-conference period.

To optimize preparation of these pre-conference materials, the Local Organizer is recommended to include guidelines about acceptable formats for submissions in the CFP.

A selection of papers from each conference should be made for formal publication. The Programme Committee will agree one or more Editors of the publication. The proceedings are normally offered to the Office for Humanities communication for publication. The Standing Committee, in liaison with the OHC, will seek subsidies for the cost of publication.

If a greater number of papers of publishable quality are received than can be accommodated in the volume of Selected Papers, the Editors should actively seek to arrange for their publication in appropriate journals.

Appendix A Organization of a DRH Conference

The following sections are non-normative recommendations based on the experience of previous conference organizers.

Appendix A.1 A suggested timetable

From the point of view of an institution hosting DRH in year nn, a typical timetable might be as follows:

Summer, nn minus 2 Prepare case for hosting DRH-nn
September, nn minus 2 Bid to host DRH-nn accepted
September, nn minus 1 Programme Committee for DRH-nn appointed
November, nn minus 1 First Call for Proposals for DRH-nn
February nn Second Call for Proposals
March nn Deadline for submission of abstracts
April nn Notification of acceptance
May nn Call for registration; provisional programme announced
June nn Deadline for submission of final papers
July nn Second call for registrations
Sept nn DRH-nn takes place
Sept nn Presenters invited to submit papers for volume of proceedings
Nov nn Deadline for submissions to Proceedings
Sept following Proceedings published and available at Conference

Appendix A.2 Programme Contents

The Programme Committee should decide on the relative numbers of plenary and parallel sessions, and the maximum number of parallel strands; the latter should neither be so large as to make the conference incoherent, nor so small as to make the conference boring. In general, quality should be preferred to quantity, and variety to monotony.

Appendix A.2.1 Poster Sessions

In the DRH context, a poster is a paper presented in poster format rather than as an oral presentation.

Work not considered suitable for oral presentation may be considered for presentation as a poster, or posters may be explicitly requested in the CFP.

If a posters are solicited, the conference programme must include at least one timetabled plenary poster session during which all poster presenters can expect to be able to discuss their work with conference delegates.

Poster presentations should be included in the official conference proceedings and should be reviewed in the same way as papers intended for oral presentation.

Poster presenters should be given clear information about the amount of space available for displaying their posters and allocated a specific board.

Appendix A.2.2 Workshops

In the DRH context, a workshop is a training event, lasting at least two hours, typically focussing on some particular skill or technology of relevance to the themes of the conference. Where such workshops are organized in conjunction with a DRH conference, the following recommendations may be helpful:

  • Overall responsibility for organization of workshops should rest with a member of the PC other than the Conference Chair or local organizer.
  • The workshop organizer may elect to solicit proposals for workshops directly or by inclusion in the CFP or both.
  • The overall workshop programme should be approved by the PC before it is advertised.
  • The workshop programme should specify topics, teachers, resources, and target numbers (minimum/maximum enrolment) for each workshop.
  • An additional fee may be charged for attendance at workshops.
  • The workshop programme should be advertised no later than the final call for registration for the conference as a whole; workshops for which the minimum enrolment is not achieved within one week of the conference should be cancelled.
  • The local organizer should provide the workshop organizer with reliable information about the resources available for workshops and ensure their availability to workshop tutors.

Appendix A.2.3 Exhibitions

DRH is an important showcase for electronic publishers, academic projects, and even software developers. A permanent exhibit space is desirable throughout the course of the conference; it is highly desirable that this should be physically close to the main conference events, and that all delegates should be encouraged to visit it.

The Local Organizer (with assistance from the Standing Committee) should solicit potential exhibitors with a view to selecting those of maximum relevance to the themes of the conference

Exhibitors may be charged pro rata for exhibition space.

At the discretion of the local organizer, exhibitors may be entitled to reduced registration for the academic part of the conference.

Appendix A.3 Review Protocol

The Programme Committee should conduct a careful academic review of all proposals submitted for DRH. The review should be carried out according to an agreed review protocol, which will address such issues as the following:

Appendix A.3.1 Conflicts of Interest in Reviewing Papers

Wherever possible, reviewers should not be drawn from

  • Relatives of the writer
  • Members of the writer's own institution (which at Oxford and Cambridge means members of those universities, not just of the same college as the writer)
  • People who are currently collaborating with the writer, or have done so in the past two years, either on the work that is being reported on, or on any other work

Reviewers should be required to report on any relationship of these kinds, or any other relationship that might be thought to affect their perceived impartiality.