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Open Source Critical Editions

A workshop run by Gabriel Bodard and Juan Garces, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London (22 September 2006).

(pdf) (html) Programme
(pdf) (html) Participants
(pdf) (html) Workshop report
(html) Workshop wiki

This workgroup explored the possibilities, requirements for, and repercussions of a new generation of digital critical editions of Greek and Latin texts which will be made available under an open license such as Creative Commons or GPL. The topic broached many technological, legal, and administrative issues, and the workgroup participants were selected for their interest and/or expertise in these areas. As an overall background consideration, the group kept in mind the question of how such editions advance classical philology as a whole, both in terms of the internal value to the subject itself, and in terms of outreach, interdisciplinarity, and the value of philology to the wider world outside the academy.

The technological questions discussed at this event included: the status of open critical editions within a repository or distributed collection of texts; the need for and requirements of a registry to bind together and provide referencing mechanisms for such texts (the Canonical Texts Services protocols being prototyped at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC are an obvious candidate for such a function); the authoritative status of this class of edition, whether edited by a single philologist or in collaborative, 'Wiki' fashion; the role of eScience and grid applications in the creation and delivery of the editions.

Legal issues considered largely revolved around the question of copyright: what copyright status should the open source data behind open critical editions have? Attribution is clearly desirable, but the automatic granting of permission to modify and build upon scholarly work is also essential. There are also copyright questions regarding the classical texts upon which such editions are based: what is the status of a recently published critical edition or a text or manuscript, notice of which needs to be taken by any scholar working on a new edition?

The administrative questions posed at the workgroup included: issues of workflow and collaboration (of which the Stoa Consortium has considerable experience, for example through the Suda Online project); protocols for publication and reuse of source data: a genealogy of reuse and citation could be generated using a technology such as (or analogous with) CVS, or a system of passive link-back generating an automatic citation index through a web search engine. Issues of peer review and both pre- and post-publication validation of scholarship were also addressed by the group.

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • Ancient History
  • European Literature and Languages
  • English Literature and Languages
  • Non-European Literature and Languages


  • Communication and collaboration - Textual interaction - asynchronous
  • Communication and collaboration - Textual interaction - synchronous
  • Communication and collaboration - Textual collaborative publishing
  • Communication and collaboration - Textual resource sharing
  • Data Analysis - Collating
  • Data Analysis - Concording/Indexing
  • Data Analysis - Content analysis
  • Data Analysis - Collocating
  • Data Analysis - Parsing
  • Data Analysis - Searching/querying
  • Data Analysis - Stylometrics
  • Data Capture - 2d Scanning/photography
  • Data Capture - Text recognition
  • Data Capture - Usage of existing digital data
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Digital aerial photography
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Cataloguing / indexing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Desktop publishing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Textual collaborative publishing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Textual resource sharing
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - conceptual
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - document structure
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - linguistic structure
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - nominal
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - presentational
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - referential
  • Strategy and project management - Iteration / version control