Questions to Ask of Digital Resources

I have co-created this list with Michael Ullyot (University of Calgary).

Ontological Questions

  1. What kind of resource is it? Is it a digital edition? (If yes, what kind of edition? Critical? Performance? Old-spelling?) Is it a text repository? A database? (If it’s a database, what’s the nature of the data contained therein?)
  2. How does it complement other digital resources in the same category?
  3. Is it peer reviewed? If yes, how? As a whole, or as components?

Users and Usability

  1. Has the resource been designed with different user categories in mind?
  2. Do its affordances and decisions meet the needs of the users identified by the project as its intended users? If the project does not identify an intended user group, for whom does the project appear to be intended?
  3. Does it make the affordances or capabilities of the resource obvious, or do they require a lot of digging and tweaking? In other words, how steep is the learning curve for users?
  4. Is the interface intuitive?


  1. What does the interface privilege?
  2. If the resource is an edition, what kind of argument does the interface make about the text? How well does that argument align with the paratextual claims about the editorial approach?
  3. What does the interface look like (design, colour scheme, mise-en-digital-page)?
  4. Has the resource met accessibility standards?


  1. Does the project team clearly document who was responsible for what
  2. How (and how thoroughly) does the resource document its history, underlying technologies, editorial praxis, encoding standards, metadata model, and revision history?
  3. Does it offer any guidance on use cases?


  1. Is the project open-access?
  2. Is it open-code?
  3. Is the documentation open-access?
  4. Is its data exportable in any way? In what formats?


  1. Does the project follow ISO standards?
  2. Does it have a data management and preservation plan?
  3. On what does the resource’s legacy depend?
  4. Is the resource interoperable with other projects? (E.g., has it planned for linked open data?)