This article from the new Chronicle of Higher Education job site, Vitae, describes the difficulties digital humanists encounter when tenure committees evaluate their work. As a Ph.D. Candidate in English literature trying to bootstrap my way into the digital humanities (in a program that does not value it), I am not at all surprised that digital projects often do not count toward tenure. My digital projects are, as my dissertation advisor puts it, “a distraction from my real work.” Evidently the situation doesn’t get any better if you find a tenure track job in English. This is changing, slowly–but the main trend is for digital humanists to work off the tenure track in alt-ac positions. While it may be a plus to not have to work for tenure, neither do alt-ac positions provide the benefits of the tenure track.
The good news, according to the article, is that some programs are slowly coming around. The MLA has issued guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship.
The recommendations advise making expectations clear to candidates; asking faculty members familiar with digital work to participate in the review; accepting the work in its original, electronic form and not only, for example, as printed screen shots; and staying informed about technological innovations that help people with disabilities to conduct research, among other principles.
It is a good start.