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Some guidelines for on-line reviews

Porta Historica is a platform for on-line reviews of historical editions and for evaluating websites containing historical editions. Some guidelines by Dr. Andrea Rzihacek (IMAF) and Dr. Jane Winters (IHR)


Porta Historica as a platform for on-line reviews of historical editions

1) Porta Historica as a platform for on-line reviews of historical editions

Porta Historica is a network of institutions that are involved in editing various kinds of historical sources in the widest sense, including also works of reference (bibliographical and biographical dictionaries, research guides etc.). One of the aims of Porta Historica is to provide the users of its website with reliable information concerning already published editorial works and books of reference in the field of historical research, as these two groups of work have generally been widely neglected in existing on-line review platforms, whereas those extant in printed journals are generally restricted to special topics or geographical areas. Especially for students and scholars it sometimes proves considerably difficult to gain quick and satisfying information about already existing editions or works of reference that exceed the usual regional or content-related boundaries. As Porta Historica has been established as a European network, to bridge the gap between various regional studies is considered a worthwile task.

Users of this platform will be provided with basic information including

· complete bibliographical references

· scope, time frame, regional/geographical specification

· aim of the edition

· identification of the sources that have been used (e.g. manuscript sources)

· specification of the method applied

· comments on the structure of the edition and the presentation of the material (text, annotations, comments, analysis, added information provided)

· information on the autor/editor, the institution(s) that are involved or connected with the edition

· a short evaluation of the reviewed work

2) Porta Historica as a platform for evaluating websites containing historical editions

The increasing availability of digital resources via internet, apart from advantageously providing a wide range of easily accessible material for users, also poses specific problems. For the student or scholar using these resources it is in many cases not transparent enough by whom and in what way these resources have been made available and if they provide a sound basis that can be used for scholarly investigation. Very few attempts have hitherto been made to evaluate websites that are likely to be used by students and scholars, especially not in a systematic way. Porta Historica aims at filling this gap by providing a platform on its website for evaluating websites that are connected to editions of historical sources in a wider sense and that are likely to be consulted by students and scholars who are not aware of their reliability and scholarly quality.

This platform is provided in collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research’s journal, Reviews in History ( All reviews are published on both the Reviews in History and Porta Historica websites. The guidelines for evaluating websites containing historical editions were established in accordance with the results gained by the ICT Strategy Project of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC; see: Guidelines for reviewers). Evaluations on this platform will provide the user with basic information as to:

· aim/audience

· authority (responsibility for the website and the provided edition)

· content

· structure and presentation of the material offered

· added value

· technical usability

· sustainability, maintainance and up-to-dateness.