RESOURCE> Syllabus Database How-to Guide

A. Charles Muller's picture

Dear Colleagues,

On numerous occasions during the (almost) two decades H-Buddhism has been operating, one or more of our members has suggested the creation of a syllabus database. Our editorial board of course would happily support the creation of such a database--it's just a matter of someone being interested in doing it. In any case, David Prior, H-Net's VP of Networks, has recently sent out the below notice. If anyone is interested in taking this on, please let us know <editorial-buddhism@mail.h-net.msu.edu>. – Chuck

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Dear H-Netters, 

As part of my work as VPN, I'm trying to develop some project-oriented advice guides to build on the technical instructions that H-Net offers through Editor Resources.  I'd like to share one I've developed below on syllabi.  Your feedback and input is very much welcome. After any changes, I will look to covert the below advice to a stable webpage located on this site. 

Best wishes, 

David Prior
Vice President for Networks
Assistant Professor of History, UNM

Syllabus Database How-To Guide

This document is designed to provide individual H-Net Networks with advice about how to construct a syllabus database. If you have any questions or advice about this document, please contact H-Net’s Help Desk at help@mail.h-net.msu.edu and the VP for Networks, David Prior, at vp-net@mail.h-net.msu.edu.  We’ll be happy to hear from you!


General Advice

A collection of syllabi can be a great way to help scholars in your field. H-Net’s platform, The Commons, is designed so that individual Networks can easily collect and present syllabi to their subscribers. H-Net can help you with any of the below steps. We advise that you thank the Editor(s) who does the heavy lifting to build your Network’s syllabus database and that you make sure to track when your Network last updated it.

H-Net’s many groups provide several models for how to develop a syllabus database and how to build-on that database once it exists.  In the past, H-Germany has held syllabus competitions to build their database, and H-Latam has developed their extensive collection as a collaboration with the Conference on Latin American History. H-Animal has an impressive Syllabus Exchange. You can also interview scholars about their syllabi via email, as H-Slavery has done. If interested in these kinds of projects, think of how you can scale them up and down to fit with your Network’s resources, connections, and audience.


Collecting Syllabi

I recommend a three-step process for collecting syllabi for your database.

1) Survey and reference existing resources. Before collecting your own syllabi, you may want to search the web and query some of your colleagues about related resources. Liking to these alongside the syllabi you collect can make your page more comprehensive. You can also play around with Google’s search engine to figure out what combination of terms and boolean operators yield the best results and then link to this search at the top of your database (this link, for example, is located at the top of H-Nationalism's syllabus database, here).

2) Email a handful of established instructors. Contacting a small number of scholars who teach courses relevant to your Network’s topic can help jumpstart a collection and make your subscribers more likely to share their own. We provide a form letter below you can work off of.

Subject Line: Syllabi for H-___________

Dear __________,

I am writing on behalf of ___(your Network’s name, with link)_____, an online academic forum that is a part of H-Net, one of the largest and longest running digital spaces for humanists. Our editors are working on developing a syllabus database, and we wanted to write you to see if you had any syllabi you’d be willing to share.  Our Network, like all H-Net Networks, publish on an open-access model, meaning all of our content is freely available on the web. We hope this resource will benefit our field of study by making more information available to our fellow scholars and teachers. We’d of course credit you for the syllabus within the database and thank you for sharing it. We certainly understand if you don’t have a syllabus that fits with our Network’s focus or if you prefer not to add yours to the database.  Either way, we thank you for your time!

Kind Regards,

Your Name and Network affiliation

3) Solicit contributions from your Network. The subscribers to your Network likely constitute one of the largest assemblages of scholars and teachers working in your field of study. Publishing a Discussion Post to your Network soliciting syllabi can therefore roundup syllabi to create or add to a database.We provide a form letter you can work off of to start a database.  

Subject Line: Syllabi for H-___________

Dear Subscribers,

H-__________ is working on developing a syllabus database and we’d love for it to be as rich as possible. If you have taught a course on our subject at any level, please think about emailing a copy of it to our editor, ___Name____, and ___Email____, so we can add it to our collection. Our Network, like all H-Net Networks, publish on an open-access model, meaning all of our content is freely available on the web. We hope this resource will benefit our field of study by making more information available to our fellow scholars and teachers. We will of course credit and thank all our contributors.

Kind Regards,

Your Name and Network affiliation


Publishing Your Syllabus Database

Once you have your syllabi collected, you can publish them to your Network by clicking the “Upload a Resource” button (more detailed instructions here).  This will allow you to attach a file, such as a PDF, and apply keywords to it.  Once you have your syllabi uploaded to your Network, there are multiple ways to present them to your network.  One straightforward way is to build a “Page” on your main site with a relevant title, such as “Syllabi” or “Syllabus Database” (more detailed instructions here). You can add the syllabi to your Page by hand using hyperlinks, or build an auto-generated Table that collects them automatically based on the keywords you used. After you’ve created the Page and added the syllabi to it, you can then edit your Network’s “Resources Tab” to link to it. Any scholar who wants to find your syllabi can then go to your Network’s home page, click on Resources and then Syllabi and view your database. H-Net can help you with any of these steps.