PRISMS is a flexible Open Scholarship platform, with the potential to aggregate all digitised primary source material, and the associated scholarship, in a semantic network. It is being launched with corpora from the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO-TCP), EVANS Early American Imprint Collection (EVANS-TCP), the Deutsches Textarchiv (DTA) extended core corpus, and the Taylor Editions scholarly editions platform. We will continue to add new collections to PRISMS, with preference given to high-quality TEI/XML-based editions (particularly those that have not found a home or are in danger of losing their current one). In PRISMS you are able to contribute your own digitised texts (see digitisation training) and also add external texts and contextual resources to the network. For example, if a facsimile corresponding to an EEBO-TCP transcription has been digitised, then the link to the digital facsimile can be added to the network and the page images viewed, alongside the digital text, within PRISMS.

Background and motivation

PRISMS was born out of the realization that digital editions do not break with the historicity or materiality of the sources they organize and present, but instead remediate and extend them in ways that enable new forms of access, engagement, presentation, and analysis. We subscribe to Matthew Kirschenbaum and Sarah Werner's view of "the digital as a frankly messy complex of extensions and extrusions of prior media and technologies", a view that "does not posit a transcendental “digital” that somehow stands outside the historical and material legacies of other artifacts and phenomena" (Matthew Kirschenbaum and Sarah Werner, 'Digital Scholarship and Digital Studies: The State of the Discipline'. Book History 17 (2014), 406-458, here 408). As a publication and open scholarship platform, PRISMS hopes to participate in a collective effort to narrow rather than broaden the divide of the material and digital in this media continuum.

In PRISMS, we conceptualize digital editions as living entities that perform rather than merely document the remediation they engage in. The scholarship that underpins each digital edition provides the essential context for these remediation processes, and collectively they sustain the knowledge network that supports all academic engagement with the texts from any disciplinary viewpoint. PRISMS is designed to allow for the collaborative and collective modelling of this continuum of digital editions and scholarship by placing digital editions, their material basis, and the resulting academic engagement in a linked context, building on the standards and tools provided by the Semantic Web.

Semantic Web

PRISMS is built on the Semantic Web, it embraces Linked Open Data (LOD) by adopting technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, and OWL. PRISMS is powered by an ontologically underpinned, ever-expanding knowledge graph, drawing on the concepts and relationships defined in the CIDOC-CRM family of ontologies, particularly its core, FRBR (LRM), scholarly argumentation, and digital provenance metadata models. We use the term modelling in PRISMS to refer to the act of formal ontological modelling.

We believe that this type of formalization is beneficial for the purposes of this project in at least three ways: firstly, ontologies encourage us to be as precise or explicit as possible, thus reducing the reliance on implicit knowledge. Secondly, formal models encourage collaboration as they can be shared, re-used, adapted (forked), enhanced, aggregated, and developed collaboratively. Thirdly, as a form of knowledge representation, visualization, and preservation, formal models support computational processing and reasoning, and can develop alongside the mental models and human reasoning we engage in as scholars.

See below for data and licensing and access to Linked Open Data (LOD).


The tools in PRISMS can be categorized as component tools (such as text-based tools, image-based tools, XML-based tools etc.) and workbench tools (those available across components and editions). The former category of tools is useful for any type of close scholarly work, and in PRISMS these tools include a bookmarking tool, an annotation tool for texts or images, the ability to keep research records in the form of notebooks, and integration of Voyant Tools for statistical analysis and a variety of visualisations of texts. The latter category includes the ability to participate in the shaping of the knowledge graph by modelling concepts and relationships, an easy way to organize your research materials, and the ability to download, share, and publish your contributions for the benefit of all.

PRISMS is designed for ultimate flexibility, any component of any text can be opened in a resizeable, draggable window. Scholarly articles, later editions, transcriptions, translations, facsimiles can all can be associated with any text included in PRISMS. This includes embedding websites, video, audio, e-books, and PDFs of scholarly articles, and moving forward integration with the digital research and tools important to you (reference manager, images taken in reading rooms, items deposited in institutional repositories, and so on). We envision that over time, PRISMS will evolve both as a powerful discovery tool and a personal research tool.

Creating Digital Editions

You are welcome to submit Digital Editions to PRISMS. If the edition is already online, it can be embedded using a link, as with other resources. If you would like to create your own digital edition from scratch, then we provide a highly successful training course to enable this. The course is free, but there is a small publication fee if the edition is to be hosted on PRISMS.


PRISMS is above all an invitation to collaborate. As an Open Scholarship platform, PRISMS has been designed with collaboration in mind. Contributors can add texts, witnesses, related scholarship, and their own editions to this ever-expanding resource. By default, everything contributors add is immediately visible to them, and they can conduct their scholarship without delay or interference. It is only when they decide to publish their contributions that editorial oversight is introduced (currently, primarily a formal rather than content evaluation). This evaluation is not an automated process and depending on resources may take some time. As a form of scholarly contribution, PRISMS requires a means of formal attribution and contributors need to divulge their real name and e-mail addresses as part of this process. Contributors must also understand that once a contribution is published, it cannot be amended or withdrawn without going through the same evaluation process, as the integrity of the overall system must not be compromised. Only additions contributors have verified and have confidence in, or otherwise "completed" scholarship should therefore be considered for publication.

We strongly encourage the publication of links, particularly of those likely to be of general use, such as a link to a facsimile, a translation, or existing scholarly resources crucial for the understanding of a particular text.

Current work

PRISMS is in active development. We are always keen to gather formative peer review, particularly to identify any need for additional support for the creation of digital editions, any requests for analytical tools, visualization options, additional modes of modelling, to explore collaboration opportunities, and generally to shape the roadmap for PRISMS as a contributor-centred and -driven project. We welcome comments, feedback, and contributors!

We will continue to add new editions to PRISMS, be it from individual researchers, projects, or existing corpora (particularly those that have not found a home or are in danger of losing their current one). Recent additions include:

Data and licensing

PRISMS.digital is licensed under Creative Commons Licence.

Wherever possible, the master source files of the digital editions (XML texts, high-res images, etc.) are available for download and openly licensed for re-use. Download links are available for the original TEI/XML files and for any changes you have made in the XML editor. Facsimile images are available for download for the editions created for publication in PRISMS. If in any doubt, please contact the collections maintainers with any queries about the terms of their licenses and available options for re-use.

Access to Linked Open Data

    The PRISMS SPARQL endpoint (https://data.prisms.digital/query/prisms/sparql) is a deployment of Apache Jena Fuseki, which supports the SPARQL 1.1 Query Language and content negotiation for the following content types with SELECT queries: text/csv, text/plain, application/sparql-results+json, and application/sparql-results+xml (URL parameter ?format=csv|text|json|xml). The PRISMS SPARQL endpoint currently employs the Wikibase Query Service GUI, but you should be able to use any SPARQL GUI, e.g. Yasgui, with the above endpoint URL.
  • RDF dumps:
    RDF dumps of the entire PRISMS graph (currently updated weekly) are made available in N-Quads format:
    PRISMS-RDFdump@latest.nq.gz ( @latest=2024-06-23T03:35:10Z )
    Citation suggestion: PRISMS RDF dump, www.prisms.digital, Huber Digital, 06 Nov 2022, https://www.prisms.digital/data/dumps/PRISMS-RDFdump2022-11-06T03:35:16Z.nq.gz


Citation Guide

If you use PRISMS in your research, please use below example (MLA) or adapt it to match your favourite citation format:

PRISMS: Primary Source Materials & Scholarship, PRISMS.digital, Huber Digital, 05 May 2021, www.prisms.digital

Use and privacy policy

PRISMS is open access. All materials are made available under the license terms indicated above.

We use one external service which will store some small pieces of information on your computer in the form of cookies. We use Google Analytics to provide us with a measure of the usage and impact of our site, and to inform any collaboration and outreach activities. We only submit anonymized IP addresses to Google Analytics. We consider these cookies essential to the provision of the service requested by the user.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with suggestions, queries, or other feedback. We are keen to identify any need for additional support for the creation of digital editions, receive requests for analytical tools, visualization options, different modes of modelling, or collaboration options. PRISMS is a user-centred and -driven project, your involvement will shape its roadmap. We welcome comments, feedback, and contributors!

PRISMS: Primary Source Materials & Scholarship
email: digital@hubers.org.uk
tel: 07941 980605