Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, multimedia-rich scholarship online. Users can create Scalar projects for free on the hosted platform, or download the open source software for hosting projects on their own. New Scalar users will need to request a key to create an account. Scalar is developed by academics at the University of Southern California.

Like any new content management system, Scalar does take some practice to get used to. And, in order to take advantage of its media-rich functionality, instructors will need to carefully consider how they craft the assigned use of it. However, many instructors have reported that the platform enhances student engagement with research projects (see bibliography below).

Use cases

Digital publishing course assignments

As an alternative to a final paper, have students create individual or collaborative Scalar projects on a research topic.

Digital supplement to research project

Collaborative open educational resources

Use Scalar to collaboratively create digital workbooks or educational resources to be freely shared.

How to use it

Replacement for

  • Learning management systems
  • Traditional essay assignment
  • WordPress site with primarily long-form or multimedia content


  • Scalar in the classroom. Interview with a faculty member and Librarian that use Scalar for student projects.
  • Introduction to using Scalar in the classroom by Anne Cong-Huyen.
  • Tracy, Daniel. "Assessing Digital Humanities Tools: Use of Scalar at a Research University." portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2016), pp. 163–189. Link.