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Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture


Researchers have suggested that free-use digital humanities websites remain online for an average of five years and that larger, more functionally specialized and wealthier institutions are more likely than other organizations to continue to make them available online for a long period after their initial development. A study of 59 websites created with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities Education Development and Demonstration program 1996–2003 reveals a different situation. The data show that 68% of these websites remained online for free use in September, 2020, suggesting an online lifespan of approximately eleven to sixteen years. Further statistical analysis reveals that a significantly higher proportion of websites hosted by academic institutions remained available online in September, 2020 (74%) than websites hosted by non-academic institutions (45%). However, a comparison of types of academic institution revealed that a significantly lower proportion of websites hosted by R1 and R2 institutions remained available (67.5%) compared to websites hosted by Associates colleges, Baccalaureate colleges, and Masters/Comprehensive universities (100%). Comparing R1 institutions to all other types of institutions revealed identical proportions of available websites (R1: 68%; other: 68%). Analyses of institutional expenditures and institutional financial assets showed that neither factor produced a significant effect. Institutions with sites remaining available in 2020 showed higher levels of both expenditures and assets compared to institutions with sites not available, but neither of these differences was significant by a standard commonly used in the social sciences.

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Publication Date

Fall 10-3-2022

Original Citation

VandeCreek, Drew. "Where Are They Now? The 2020 Status of Early (1996–2003) Online Digital Humanities Projects and an Analysis of Institutional Factors Correlated to Their Survival." Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture 51, no. 3 (2022): 91-109.


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