Resource: The Writing Studies Tree

By the Editors | November 15, 2012

The Writing Studies Tree (WST,writingstudiestree.org) is an online, open-access, crowdsourced database of scholarly relationships within writing studies, composition/rhetoric and related academic fields. Created by Graduate Center students in 2011-2012, the WST combines a fixed data structure with open editing privileges to rapidly aggregate the work of thousands of individuals’ small data entry efforts into scalable network visualizations. Previous academic genealogies have been limited in scalability, access to data entry, or access to data readout; the WST takes a more Web 2.0 approach, involving as many participants as possible, and trusting the community of users to self-regulate. The project thus encourages users to see themselves not only as part of an evolving network of scholars, but also as contributors to the collective knowledge-making project of the field. In May of 2012, the Writing Studies Tree was awarded the Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant at the CUNY Graduate Center. Together with my co-investigators Ben Miller and Jill Belli, we have also applied for an NEH Digital Start-up Grant, and the CCC Research Initiative Grant to continue developing this project.