Funded research: help or hindrance for the (digital) humanities?

Bibliographic details

Allington, Daniel (2011). ‘Funded research: help or hindrance for the (digital) humanities?’ Paper presented at Digital technologies: help or hindrance for the humanities, Open University, 8 July.


We work in a context within which the de facto purpose of research is increasingly understood to be the acquisition of external funding for the researcher’s employing institution. In such a context, digital technology is of immense help to the humanities in that its native cost, infrastructure requirements, and demand for skilled support staff have enabled researchers working within humanities faculties to devise projects that are far more resource-intensive than traditional humanist scholarship could ever hope to be. At the same time, however, it should be admitted that dependence on external funding represents a retreat from scholarly autonomy (a point whose significance is underscored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s incorporation of a party political slogan, ‘the Big Society’, into its priorities for research sponsorship). In this presentation, I shall consider an alternative path: a scholarship of the digital which aims to resist the imperative to acquire funds, in part through exploiting the potential of digital technology to facilitate research on a shoestring.


The colloquium website is here. If you are an employee of the Open University, you may be able to access a webcast of this presentation. I revisited my arguments in a 2013 blog post on what I have chosen to call the ‘managerial humanities’. There is a summary of some of the points I made in the following article:

Barker, Elton; Bissell, Christopher; Hardwick, Lorna; Jones, Allan; Ridge, Mia and Wolffe, John (2012). ‘Digital technologies: help or hindrance for the humanities?’ Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 11 (1-2): 185-200.