C21 Editions

Scholarly editing in the digital age

The C21 Editions project aims to radically rethink digital scholarly editions and the methods used to create them.

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  1. Investigate and advance the practices of scholarly digital editing by researching and prototyping data standards that accommodate born-digital content such as social media.

  3. Further integrate the curatorial and statistical aspects of Digital Humanities by examining how computer-assisted analytical methods such as Machine Learning can be embedded into edition making.


Why are we researching this?

Research Context

Scholarly editions are expertly curated and annotated primary sources. They are hugely important for studying culture and society, past and present.
But digital scholarly editions and ‘edition making’ are stuck in the past. There is no consensus and technical guidance on how to include born-digital materials, which is now the largest volume of written human language. And there are few computer-assisted techniques designed to support the creation and analysis of scholarly editions, despite edition-making being resource intensive and often overwhelmed by content.

What about Donald Trump?

Donald Trump

For example, it is reasonable to expect that future historians and the general public will want a critically curated edition of the former President Donald Trump’s tweets, contextualised using the sea of online political, media and social discourse that his messages either responded to or prompted.
How would we do this? What content, standards, technologies, and rights would we need? How would we create, present, and sustain such an edition?

What are the objectives?



  1. Review existing digital scholarly editions, practices and theories, and interview leading experts, to synthesise perspectives, and practices.

  3. Establish groups of stakeholders who will participate in inclusive design workshops.

  5. Develop new open standards for editing born-digital content and techniques for computer-aided scholarly editing, using born-digital materials relating to Irish literature, and diplomatic transcriptions of The Canterbury Tales.

  7. Work with the National Library of Ireland to explore how cultural institutions in possession of born-digital materials can better curate, preserve and disseminate such materials.


What will the results be?



  1. Produce a white paper detailing the theoretical and technical state-of-the-art in digital scholarly editing.

  3. Develop two prototype online editions: an edition of social media content relating to Irish literary movements; an edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for students and scholars.

  5. Deliver the tools, resources and data necessary to replicate the prototypes and approaches utilised in this project.

  7. Inaugurate a biennial conference to discuss the possible futures for the field of digital scholarly editing and publishing.

  9. Disseminate our practices and findings via methodology workshops, peer-reviewed articles, and conferences.


Who is involved?



Dr. James O’Sullivan Principal Investigator (Ireland)
Department of Digital Humanities, University College Cork


Michael Pidd Principal Investigator (UK)
Digital Humanities Institute, University of Sheffield


Dr. Órla Murphy Co-Investigator (Ireland)
Department of Digital Humanities, University College Cork


Prof. Bridgette Wessels Co-Investigator (UK)
School of Social & Political Sciences, University of Glasgow


Dr. Michael Kurzmeier Research Associate (Ireland)
Department of Digital Humanities, University College Cork


Jamie McLaughlin Research Software Engineer (UK)
Digital Humanities Institute, University of Sheffield


Who has funded this?