Skip to Main Content
Go to Penn Libraries homepage   Go to Guides homepage

Digital Publishing at Penn: Digital Publishing at Penn

A guide to developing short and long-form digital scholarly publications.

Support for Publishing at Penn

Expanded resources for supporting the creation of multimodal and digital publications at Penn Libraries are currently under development. Check back on these pages for updates and more information and/or reach out to the Contemporary Publishing Fellow with specific questions or to request a consultation or workshop. 

Choosing a Platform

Selecting a platform for your digital publication requires several considerations. Although it can be tempting to pick a platform before beginning a project, it's important to define the publication scope and articulate the need for digital tools or affordances before settling on a platform in order to make sure that the platform's features can support the project. 

Some of the main considerations to think about include: 

Technical experience: Outline what technical skills or knowledge of tools that you have, the ones you do not, and the ones you have the time and capacity to learn. As you learn more about platform options, this will help you evaluate what kind of support your project will need. 

Identifying the Publication Genre: Is the narrative short- or long-form? Do you need a table of contents to engage with the project? Do you need to be able to organize content by volumes or issues? Not all platforms can support every publication type, so identifying the needs of your publication will help determine the platform. 

Digital tools and/or enhancements: What kind of digital tools and/or enhancements are necessary to support your narrative? Making a list of the essential digital tools, enhancements, and/or assets (e.g. a gallery of images, an interactive map, an audio file) will help determine the platform options. Ranking digital tools, enhancements and/or assets from essential to auxiliary (need-to-have to nice-to-have) will also help identify a supporting platform, as well as start to outline considerations for the project timeline and preservation. 

Explore digital publications: Spend some time researching digital publications that are similar in genre, scope, theme, or leverage of digital tools. Exploring other digital publications that do something similar to the project you hope to achieve can also help narrow down platform options. 

Publication Endurance: How long does your digital publication need to endure and be fully accessible? Does your publication require a long-term preservation strategy (e.g. for a monograph or journal, especially if published by an academic press), or is it a class project that can be sunset after 3-5 years? Considering the long-term life cycle of your publication will also help identify a digital publishing platform based on your project needs.

Discoverability: How do you anticipate readers will find your digital publication? Does your digital publication need an ISBN, ISSN, or DOI? Does it need to be discoverable in peer library catalogs? Can it be linked to your research center or department website if not cataloged? Identifying how readers will find your digital publication will also help determine the platform that will support your project.

Digital Publishing Platforms

Digital Publishing Platforms Supported by Penn Libraries: 

  • Manifold: Open source digital publishing platform featuring modular layout options and optional annotation tools, designed to support multimodal monographs, journals, and other types of multimodal digital publications. Developed by University of Minnesota Press, CUNY, and Cast Iron Coding, and used by 30+ academic libraries and university presses.
  • Scalar: Open source digital publishing platform designed to support short and long-form narrative and multimodal digital enhancements. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, developed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture.
  • Scholarly Commons: Institution digital repository with capacity to publish downloadable PDFs of short and long-form narrative and capacity to support multi-volume journal layouts.
  • Static Site Generated:  Sustainable and minimal software tools that generate a static website by processing plain text files that contain the websites content and markup. The resulting website consists of a set of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, and other assets, that can be served by a web server to visitors.
  • Select custom developed projects: Select publication projects may be able to receive more custom support depending on scope and Penn Libraries capacity for support. Reach out to the Contemporary Publishing Fellow for a consultation and more information on options for customization. 

Additional Digital Publishing Platforms:

(Not currently supported by Penn Libraries, however you can contact the Contemporary Publishing Fellow to learn more about these resources)

  • Art and Architecture ePortal: An enhanced eBook platform with innovative functionality and extensive metadata used exclusively by Yale University Press.
  • FulcrumMultimodal and sustainable open source digital publishing platform, with the ability to embed visual, audio, and video resources, and interactive maps, developed by University of Michigan Press. Also used by Amherst College Press, University of North Carolina Press, NYU Press, Lever Press, Indiana University Press, and University of Minnesota Press.
  • Ravenspace: Digital publishing model that embraces collaboration, respects Indigenous protocols, and uses digital tools in imaginative ways to make knowledge accessible and shareable across communities and generations, led by University of British Columbia Press and University of Washington Press. Publications are developed in Scalar, which is enhanced to include Traditional Knowledge labels (TK) for creating metadata.
  • PubPub: Open source publishing platform with support to generate DOIs within the platform, developed by Knowledge Futures Group and used primarily by MIT Press.
  • Quire: An open source multiformat digital publishing platform using a single set of plain text files (static site generated), developed by Getty with a focus on creating media rich, enhanced exhibition catalogs, journals, and other publications centered on visual resources.

Get in Touch

Profile Photo
Cosette Bruhns-Alonso
Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555