Because of the customizable nature of Commons profiles, they are well-suited to showcase different kinds of work, ranging from traditional academic articles to videos and podcasts
Integration with sites on the Commons means users can create content on a Commons site that will automatically populate their profile
Represent your projects & interests.
Whether you’re an independent scholar looking to increase your activity in online communities or a graduate student starting to establish a scholarly presence, it can often be overwhelming to begin building a full picture of your work online. Maybe you have a limited amount of time to create a fully customized website, or perhaps you simply are not sure how to represent your projects in an effective way.
The four main areas of the Commons—profiles, groups, CORE, and sites—allow users to create a multifaceted digital presence. Think of this as a networked approach. As soon as you create a Humanities Commons account, you will start building your profile. You can add custom text to many of the fields, or simply by engaging in activities on the Commons, your profile will be automatically updated. For example, any groups you join or CORE deposits you upload will show up on your profile. Between the information you provide and your Commons activity, anyone who visits your profile can get a better sense of who you are.
You can also use your profile to compile a digital portfolio–a curated space where you link to projects, conference presentations, and other information about you that goes beyond your Commons activity. Choose a few projects you want to showcase, link to them from the “Projects” section, and then write some contextual information so other users know more about your work.
As you create sites, they will also automatically show on your profile, in addition to any blog posts you’ve written on those sites. This is another great way to make your work visible—writing blog posts on topics you care about can provide a wide-ranging depiction of your work beyond CORE deposits and Commons activity. Through this multifaceted approach, you can quickly and easily spread the word about your work.
And if you’re looking for a social media-like platform to develop even more of a digital presence, consider joining our Mastodon server! Scholarly conversations are highly encouraged on hcommons.social, so you’ll feel right at home posting about your projects. Or, if you’d rather just make some new virtual friends and not talk too much about work, you can do that on Mastodon too.
Relevant CORE deposits
If you’re looking for further reading on how you can build an online identity, check out these amazing resources in our CORE repository.
The Commons offers free WordPress hosting with up to 600MB of storage
The repository automatically assigns a DOI and the metadata is fed to aggregators (like Google Scholar) all over the world
The Commons community is alerted to the new journal through the activity feed and the ability to tag appropriate groups in deposits
Publishing open access benefits everyone.
Imagine a small group of scholars who see the need for an open-access journal within their discipline. They’ve started on their own with a small WordPress site and a handful of issues. They realize that hosting a website on their own can be expensive, even with a small subsidy from their department. Without a larger network to share their work, they’ve also been struggling to find and engage with new readers.
Fortunately, the Humanities Commons uses WordPress and, if the editor exports their current site, these scholars could work with the Commons team to import the content to a new WordPress site on the Commons. The first step is to create a private or hidden group with a group site. The group will allow them to communicate with one another and keep a calendar of deadlines.
Once the site is imported, they can work to design the site and begin the process of uploading PDFs of previous articles to the CORE repository. They plan to post online-readable articles as blog posts on their website, using the link created after uploading the PDFs to the CORE repository. While they only have about 30 articles to deposit, if they had over 50, they could work with the Commons team to do a bulk upload to the repository. The deposits are automatically aggregated by Google Scholar, and fed to other aggregators around the world.
Every time they post and make a deposit, their updates are added to the site’s activity feed. Not only can they tag their own group when they deposit an article to the repository, but they can also tag four other appropriate groups to increase the visibility of the content. With over 50,000 members, this is a lot more visibility than they’ve had previously with only a little added work.
My journal uses a content management system other than WordPress. Can I import the content onto the Commons?
While importing may not be possible, copying and pasting content within WordPress using the block editor is relatively easy.
My journal has a dedicated domain name. Can I still use it on the Commons?
All Commons sites must have the hcommons.org domain in their URL. However, most registrars allow domains to be pointed to a new host. While your posts won’t be in a https://yourdomain.com/post format, you can establish a redirect to the new site.
Sites on the Commons allow for quick setup – users or groups can easily create a blog or site that doesn’t require coding experience
Full site editing allows for easy customization, making it possible to create a clean, aesthetically pleasing design
The Commons’ high findability in Google’s indexing can make projects more locatable within search results
Share what you’re working on.
Leading a research lab of 5 art historians who are creating a podcast on local art within your community. You host your podcast episodes on all the major streaming platforms, but you’d like to create a website where you can link to both your weekly episodes and supplementary content, such as pictures of the artwork mentioned and links to related articles.
Working on your first novel, which you started writing as part of your creative writing MFA program. You’d like to create a blog where you reflect on the process of turning a short story from your portfolio into a longer work.
Hosting a mini-conference amongst a group of music theory colleagues. You’d like to develop a website where you can post the Call For Papers and details on how to access the conference.
For all of these projects, Humanities Commons sites are an ideal place to get started. With a variety of themes available, it’s easy to find one that fits with the visual style of the project. Once you choose a theme, you can quickly add content, images, and links to customize the look and feel of the site. The creation of your site can take as much or as little time as you’d like, and part of what makes sites useful is you don’t need to do any custom coding. Using the block editor in WordPress is particularly helpful for creating a nice-looking site quickly.
In addition to developing a website, the leaders of these projects may also want to consider how they could leverage other areas of the Commons to enhance awareness of their projects. The CORE repository’s high ranking in search engines (including automatic indexing with Google Scholar) makes it easier for a project to be discovered by a broad audience. So, in order to get even more interest around their podcast and receive a DOI for their work, the team of art historians might deposit a few episodes into CORE. The only caveat is CORE has a size limit of 100 MB, so the team may only be able to upload a few of the shorter episodes.
Once you’ve added content to the Commons, you’re ready to share it with the world. The next step in spreading the word is to start with the tools available on the Commons. Posting on the news feedor discussion board in a Commons group is one way to find an audience who is already interested in your topic. For example, the music theory mini-conference site could be shared in any of the music history or theory groups on the Commons. Additionally, leveraging other social networks like Mastodon, Facebook, and Twitter is vital, as this will drive more traffic to your project beyond Commons users. Even just a few regularly scheduled posts with a link to your site and a short description of your posts or updates can go a long way.
Is my project right for a Commons site?
Overall, Humanities Commons offers enough tools and features so that any project of an academic nature has a place on the Commons. However, for the security of our network, we do have to limit some customization options in WordPress. If you’re looking to create a large-scale project with extensive customization of your site, you may want to consider other options. Contact us at email@example.com to discuss this further!
Why can’t I add certain WordPress themes or plugins to my site?
For security purposes, we limit some of the theme and plugin options available to our users. If you’d like to request a plugin or an added theme, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I create a custom URL for my site?
All sites in the Commons network contain the .hcommons.org domain name. We do not offer custom URLs at this time.
I’ve never used WordPress before and am not sure where to start. Any suggestions?
Welcome to Commons Highlights — a new series highlighting groups, sites, and organizations that make the Commons their home. We will be speaking with users who have created vibrant and thriving communities on how they did it, and the lessons they have learned.
The Composers of Color Resource Project
What do you do with the urgent desire to make societal change? How do you capture that initial spark, and turn it into sustained momentum? As Aaron Grant, a founding member of the Composers of Color Resource Project has said, “Many want to do anti-racist pedagogy in classes, but where do you start?” In May of 2020, as worldwide protests erupted in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, a group of music theorists created a Slack channel that was committed to start answering these questions. The channel was created, in part, as a space to discuss ways of diversifying the music theory curriculum and developing anti-racist pedagogy. The channel immediately had a large influx of members as the music theory community reckoned with how to create and sustain badly needed DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) work within the discipline, but after a strong start the channel began to lose momentum. Among those who joined the Slack channel were the scholars who would start the Composers of Color project: Amy Fleming, Aaron Grant, Megan Long, Jan Miyake, and Sam Reenan.
As membership and discussion slowed down within Slack, Jan Miyake suggested using Zoom to have a workshop where a subset of Slack channel members analyzed music by BIPOC composers in small groups, wrote up analytical notes, and tagged their notes with search terms that they would want when looking to diversify their teaching examples. Those who were invested in making change had something to participate in, and with this first Zoom workshop the Composers of Color Resource Project was born.
Where Do You Start?
Since July, the Composers of Color Resource Project has hosted seven analysis sessions, generated 78 pages of analytical notes, explored the work of 31 BIPOC composers, analyzed at least 80 works, created at least 30 annotated scores, built a user-friendly spreadsheet cataloging these works, and presented it all within Humanities Commons. Many users, including team members themselves, have found new research topics through the spreadsheet cataloging all of the works. Users can submit new entries through a Google Form, which are then vetted and added by the project team.
Creating the Composers of Color Resource Project wasn’t easy. To engage members the team devised a deliverable-oriented workflow to crowdsource this work, allowing users to participate without feeling solely responsible for the entirety of any one piece of it. According to Grant, “It was low effort on an individual level with crowdsourcing, but created a high impact on the discipline and on theorists’ everyday lives. Finding suitable pieces and recordings for the classroom would normally take an immense amount of time.” Crowdsourcing allowed the many people who wanted to do something to accomplish much more than they would have been able to do on their own. The group has now been able to link to existing recordings, and to identify pieces that need recording through this process.
How Humanities Commons Helped the Project Grow
Team member Sam Reenan was on a Society for Music Theory committee looking at using the Commons for society business, so he was familiar with the basic functionality of the platform. As the project team looked for a place to store the ever-expanding amount of materials, it became clear to the team that Google Drive and other file sharing services would not be adequate. Humanities Commons’ group functionality, with its ability to upload files, create collaborative documents, and group website capabilities proved to be a good fit.
“The website gave our subset of people an identity, a name, and an email,” Megan Long says. “It gave the project boundaries and became more focused. [Humanities Commons] made it easier to do stuff and organize events.”
Grant, too, sees the Humanities Commons group and site as giving the group legitimacy: “That legitimacy is necessary for things to become more than ‘backyard projects.’ There have been Google spreadsheets circulated for years. But while they are useful, not everyone feels as invested in a spreadsheet. Legitimacy makes a big difference in terms of momentum.” Grant notes that earlier projects that relied on technologies like Google Sheets didn’t create a sense of personal responsibility in those who participated. He goes on to say, “Humanities Commons is much more accessible to those who are not as tech-savvy. Having it all hosted on this website and easy to navigate is so crucial. Just like using Zoom for our meetings. Everyone now knows how to use Zoom. It’s easy to lose track of the conversation on Slack, so it’s been great to use HC and Zoom in tandem.”
While the Humanities Commons group is private (Commons users must request membership), the website is open to the public. Reenan explained, “Our field is sort of odd in that there’s a lot of people teaching music theory that aren’t music theorists (e.g. performing musicians, high school teachers). The group website is a great way of targeting people who aren’t doing this all day everyday — graduate students, adjuncts, and those who teach it as part of a larger curriculum, providing them with accessible and readily-adaptable materials.”
Publicizing the Group and Gaining Momentum
The project has over 200 members on their mailing list, and 78 participating in the Commons group. The membership has drawn those early in their career as well as senior scholars. The team has used social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter), Society of Music Theory (SMT) listservs, and Zoom events to grow their network. Through word-of-mouth even non-members are using the group’s resources. One of the ways the project team has sustained their growth and expanded the available materials is through events. Zoom sessions to work collaboratively are announced through their email list, social media, and SMT listservs.
As the collection grows, more people are exposed to the project, and the team notes that there is almost always someone in their annotated score spreadsheet. The majority of discussion has been held within Zoom, email, or Slack, however they’re currently looking at utilizing the group’s forum for further discussion. Future plans include finding ways to leverage the social media aspects of the Commons, and taking advantage of the group’s event calendar to announce events.
Plans for the Future
What’s in store for the Composers of Color Resource Project? Some of the next steps planned by the team are:
Multiplying the number of resources they have available through further crowdsourcing
Mining the resources currently available for future projects
Collecting volunteered, ready-made handouts and lesson plans that educators have created for their individual classroom and sharing them on our website
Further growing membership
Creating small groups to discuss anti-racist policies in syllabi
Creating opportunities for performers to make recordings of the pieces that have yet to be recorded
In addition to further growing the current resources, there are plans to create resources to fit into other types of curricula, crowdsourcing syllabi, and continuing to develop the raw resources available into more classroom-ready materials.
“The idea that in addition to some groundwork laid in data mining a lot of these sources, there’s a lot of room for refinement of these materials,” Grant says. “For a lot of people who may not have as much pedagogical training we could streamline that process and have a repository for handouts, lesson plans, and units.”
The Composers of Color Resource Project is a great example of like-minded people finding each other and using the power of crowdsourcing to get things done. The old adage “many hands make light work” applies here. While this type of project would be a huge and heavy lift for just a few people, by spreading it across a group diverse in age, background, and training they’ve successfully launched a growing and thriving space providing materials for those both within and outside the music theory community.