Peer Review

Basic Principles for Modernist Networks Peer Review For two reasons, review is one of the most important services our Board can provide. First, since digital projects are still not always given equal standing in academic procedure (e.g., evaluation for tenure), expert peer review will help the creators of digital projects demonstrate the value of their work. Second, it will guarantee to users that the projects they access through Modernist Networks are both trustworthy in content and functional in form.
  1. Is the project primarily a work of scholarship?
Examples of what we’re seeking:
  • A digital edition of a text or set of texts
  • A digital concordance or search engine referencing some archive
  • A digital exhibit or teaching resource
  • A presentation of linguistic data based on a set of texts
  • A hypertext chronology of a life or an event
Examples of what we’re not seeking:
  • A critical article presented in some digital format
  • Original modernism-inspired creative works
  • A Web-based critical periodical
  • A modernist scholar’s blog
  1. Are digital technologies fundamental to the project?
Comment: A print document simply ported to PDF, for example, would fail this test. See also the examples above.
  1. Does the project contribute to modernist studies?
Comment: Please see our mission statement above (“What is ModNets?”).
  1. Does the project meet scholarly standards customarily applied to print publications?
For example:
  • Is the project a new contribution to scholarship? Does it represent an advance over existing material?
  • Is the research thoroughly documented?
  • Have proofreading procedures been followed to ensure accuracy?
  • Are all contributors appropriately credited for their work?
  1. Is the project effectively designed and competently executed?
Comment: Although ModNets does not mandate specific technical standards (e.g., TEI), users will benefit from thoughtfully considered and well-implemented coding, interface design, and so forth.


Applying to ModNets

Projects interested in applying to ModNets should review our peer review guidelines, then fill out our application form. The application asks about the project’s mission and plans for the future, as well as its infrastructure. This application serves as an introduction to the project for ModNets’ boards and reviewers. To submit a completed application, or to ask questions about applying to ModNets, please email Applications will be acknowledged upon receipt.

ModNets Metadata

Once a project has passed successfully through peer review, it must begin the process of technical integration (aggregation) into ModNets. In doing so, the site is brought into conversation with numerous other projects vetted and included in the ModNets search index, allowing for more interesting connections to be drawn between them.

Submitting RDF

Resource Description Framework, or RDF, is the metadata format that contributors use to make their resources available for use within ModNets. With RDF, contributors describe each of their resources in general terms that allow those resources to be categorized, searched, and repurposed. 

RDF Basics

Using RDF, contributors identify the basic features of their digital objects, such as the title, creator, publisher, date of composition, and genre. A project’s RDF can also list component objects that form a larger whole.

In thinking about the RDF creation process, contributors should first decide on how to define objects in their project. What, in other words, are the units that would be most helpful for browsing, collecting, and repurposing?

For example, a transcription of a novel would have an object for the unit of “the novel.” But the chapters of that novel might be interesting to collect on their own. The contributor would then make RDF objects for each chapter unit as well. Similarly, a poetry anthology might have one RDF object for the anthology as a whole; one object for each author; one object for each poem; one object for each figure; even objects for the scholarly commentary or introductions. Another contributor could treat an anthology in a quite dissimilar way, viewing the bibliographic page as the elementary unit instead of the logical divisions. The question in either case is what other scholars will find useful for collection and annotation. A large book rendered as a monolithic object won’t help to reveal the rich resources of its individual chapters, essays, poems, or pictures. Likewise, a poetry anthology atomized into single lines of verse would have little use for collection and prove a nightmare for browsing.

For technical specifications and links to sample RDF submissions and XSL transformations (used to turn XML resources into RDF) see our wiki.


ModNets is an aggregator of digital resources, bringing together disparate projects into a common arena. This means that ModNets does not host the material for any given site, but rather indexes metadata (RDF) contributed by those sites. There are many varieties of structured data, from XML databases to texts encoded according to standards of Text Encoding Initiave (TEI), and RDF allows ModNets to bring them all in communication with each other. However, this situation requires that contributors maintain contact with the staff at ModNets, and alert us to any major updates or changes in site structure. It is important that ModNets be able to present an up-to-date version of each project, and assure internal stability so that users may collect, annotate and work with digital objects to the fullest extent possible.