A Closing Thought (for now) about Digital Scholarship

Hard to believe that our week in thinking and processing and learning and discussing digital scholarship has come to a close. In many ways, I feel I have just scratched the surface of this area, and am beginning to appreciate how the facilitators of the #change11 MOOC scheduled this in such a rapid manner to give sufficient taste of different topics, with individual freedom to stop and spend more or less time with a topic as we are moved to.

With enough of a taste of digital scholarship, I fully think I will revisit this area and new verbiage I am acquiring.

I read some chunks of the session facilitator Martin Weller’s new text The Digital Scholar (available for free online), though think the content is such that I need to see the book in a more holistic manner (and thus pre-ordered it on Amazon). During the session, I asked Martin a question at the end of his presentation:

Can you clarify how “digital scholarship” fits with or is different from Internet Research and TEL? In other words, to what extent is this term becoming more widely known/ how does it fit into a traditional disciplines?

To give some background to this question, I am working on a PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning at Lancaster University, and have been searching for some term to capture many of the keywords I selected for my public profile at Lancaster University, where I study in the Graduate School Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. That, in light of my blog by-line “Educational Research + (Virtual) Identity in Postmodernity,” makes me wonder if digital scholarship as a term may be something that I incorporate into my own developing research identity?

Perhaps it may come into my professional and academic work once I finish my formal studies? Only time will tell.

Digital Scholarship and You (or me!) in #change11

This week in the free online course #change MOOC, the focus was around Digital Scholarship. Based around the work of Martin Weller (who facilitated the session) and his book The Digital Scholar (which is currently available open-source on the publisher’s website), the focus was around some of the changes technology is bringing to higher education and scholarship. As my research has been in the area of networked learning and online identity development in higher education and doctoral studies, this is a fitting place for me to delve into this online course content.

In this context, Chap 5 of the text makes an interesting claim that is somewhat applicable for my own doctoral research:

There is a general suspicion around using social networks to share findings, although many researchers use them for personal and professional networking (James 2009; Carpenter 2010). Carpenter et al. describe researchers as ‘risk averse’ and ‘behind the curve in using digital technology’. Similarly Harley et al. (2010) state that ‘we found no evidence to suggest that “tech-savvy” young graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or assistant professors are bucking traditional publishing practices’.

I use social networks for both personal and professional networking (though I still do not like the term networking, as I often consider it rather one-sided–people network to get, and not to give or share or collaborate), and I also find such networks fundamental to identifying and accessing research participants themselves. On top of that, I even use these technologies (especially through my Twitter account) to help myself think through and initiate research projects. The most valuable of these online communities I have found for my doctoral research is the Twitter-based #phdchat, what has become the hub of my online presence for personal and digital scholarship, support, and friendship. 

As an early career researcher myself, I find the related JISC-funded The Lives and Technologies of Early Career Researchers. As the study (pg. 1) found:

Despite many ECRs being interested in trying out new technologies, 72% of early career researchers reported that they did not even use Web 2.0 or social media to share their research. This may reflect the many and varied constraints which limit ICT take-up amongst early career researchers, perhaps including norms of secrecy in research practice; this study found social, confidence, skills, institutional and participatory constraints on technology use by ECRs.

This gets me thinking–I use these technologies to think through and clarify my research direction, along with access partipants and then get feedback on the process and my research design. I do not ordinarily share results online. I wonder if this is due to the great gap in time between those first steps and the findings, or perhaps because, here in my doctoral work, I do not yet have findings to share? Only time (and more discussion, perhaps) will tell.