Digital Research Institute

Program overview

The Digital Research Commons (DRC) organizes and hosts a regular series of Digital Research Institutes—multi-day, intensive experiences aimed at individual student researchers who wish to develop a piece of digital research, or who simply want to dedicate time to exploring the possibilities of digital tools and methods. During the Institutes, participants attend a series of sessions introducing a range of competencies, methods, and tools common to digital research, and are given opportunities for individual mentorship with DRC staff as well as access to the DRC’s full complement of software and equipment. Participants are selected by application.



The DRC now welcomes applications for the Spring 2022 Virtual Digital Research Institute. This Institute will take place on Zoom over five days, March 14-18, 2022 (10:00am-4:00pm daily)—the week of Spring Break.

Please see the Call for Applications for full details and apply here by Friday, November 19, 11:59PM.


The Institute is aimed at graduate and professional students who are in the beginning phases of a piece of digital research that is intended to form the basis for part of an article or a part of their thesis/dissertation. The 4-6 students who are best positioned to benefit from the experience will be offered a seat in the Institute along with a $500.00 scholarship, provided by the UH Graduate School and UH Libraries, to be received after successful completion of the experience.

Participants must attend all five days of the Institute plus a virtual interview with DRC staff and “Getting Started” cohort discussion to be scheduled the week before the Institute. Participants will be assigned individualized prework and readings that will give them the theoretical and conceptual grounding needed to undertake the work of the Institute and exit the experience with the tangible beginnings of their digital research as well as next steps. Over the Institute, they will attend 3-5 sessions per day delivered by Digital Research Commons staff and other digital research practitioners, each targeted at building their technical skills and offering individualized mentorship.

Please see the program FAQ below.

The application period for the Spring 2022 Virtual Digital Research Institute is now open. Apply by Friday, November 19, 11:59PM.

Program FAQ:

What qualifies as “digital research”?
Digital research is the use of computational tools to produce new knowledge. The application review committee will give preference to applicants working at the intersection of traditional disciplines or who are applying digital methods (e.g. data analysis) to traditional modes of inquiry (e.g. humanistic and social science).

Which methods are taught at the Institute?
The exact methods and approaches taught at the Institute are customized to the shared interests of the accepted applicants. In general terms, methods often include research data and digital materials management; data cleaning; data and textual analysis; and data visualization, but are tailored to the needs of the Institute cohort.

How might the Digital Research Institute benefit my work?
The Institute is designed to benefit those who are in the beginning stages of a piece of digital research, meaning you have clearly defined and focused questions and a refined purpose for your digital output. This output might be a dataset or corpus, a series of visualizations, maps, or some other digital component that supports your broader research agenda. Come prepared with your data collected to date, ready to undertake pre-work for the Institute, and engage fully in the experience.

Do I need to have any prior knowledge of digital research or any advanced computational skills to be successful?
Advanced computational skills are not necessary to benefit from the Institute. The review committee looks to the clarity of the project and the description of the proposed output to determine a best fit. While prior knowledge is a benefit, the intent is to learn new skills within the context of your work and the Institute embraces a diversity of levels and backgrounds.

I need to learn a specific process, such as how to automate a continuous flow polymerization system, in order to advance my digital research. Are discipline-specific processes like this taught at the Institute?
Generally, we do not teach specialized processes or methods that are particular to an individual project. The Institute is intended to teach the foundations of building a digitally based research project, such as project design and management, research data management, preparing for publication, etc., with a tailored approach to how you can most effectively apply each of these competencies to your digital research.

The project I’d like to propose is not tied to my coursework or dissertation. Is that okay?
Individuals whose piece of digital research is intended to become part of their thesis or dissertation work are poised to benefit most from the Digital Research Institute, however this is not a prerequisite for acceptance. We are eager to work with any student with the curiosity and interest in engaging with digital methods that will enhance their experience at UH and beyond.

I am receiving funding through the Libraries’ Sponsored Projects program. Am I eligible for the Digital Research Institute?
Individuals currently involved in the Sponsored Projects program are not eligible to participate in the Digital Research Institute. This helps ensure that the broadest possible community of UH researchers has access to resources provided by the Digital Research Commons and UH Libraries.

I have participated in a past Digital Research Institute. Can I apply to this one?
The application review committee will prioritize applicants who have not attended previous Institutes. If you are applying to participate for a second time, make sure to include in your application how the first institute advanced your research and how you are prepared to leverage the second. Please be specific.

I am a research assistant on a project or collaborating on a larger project that wants to incorporate digital methods. Can I apply on behalf of our group?
We welcome applications from students involved in larger-scale projects, but you must apply as an individual researcher, not on behalf of other members of your team.

What does a typical schedule for a Digital Research Institute look like? What can I expect?
See a sample Digital Research Institute schedule.

Other questions? Contact us.


Past participants:
Fall 2021: Fernando P. Cabrera, Emerald Green, Stephanie Perez-Gill, Syed Rizvi
Spring 2021: Roselia Bañuelos, Heather Butina-Sutton, Alberto Wilson III
Spring 2019: Richard Armstrong, Vix Brown, Cristobella Durrette, Ela Miljkovic, Nicholas Rattner, Lorraine Stock