Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thoughts on social scholarship

My assignment this week was to examine social scholarship. There seems to be a number of terms for social scholarship, including open scholarship and digital scholarship. The definition I found most helpful was this one from Veletsianos and Kimmons:

“the open scholar is someone who makes their intellectual projects and processes digitally visible and who invites and encourages ongoing criticism of their work and secondary uses of any or all parts of it – at any stage of its development.”


We were asked to explore the use of social media tools by researchers, academics or scholars - whatever you want to call them - to disseminate or enhance their research and to aid in the research process. 

It was interesting looking at the various tools that are used by researchers. Many use the common ones - Academia.edu, or LinkedIn - but what was more interesting for me was the use of tools like Twitter, Scoop.it, Slideshare and blogging. One of the common threads in the literature on this topic is the use of these tools for crowdsourcing of research and to discuss the research process - as Veletsianos and Kimmons put it: inviting ongoing criticism...at any stage of development. And yet what I found (in my tiny, unscientific study) was that the researchers I looked at didn't use the tools for this purpose. For them, it was more about getting the word out about their research output, enhancing their reputation, and gaining more citations. 

I'd be keen to do a proper study of what's going on at my University in this regard. One of the researchers I interviewed believes that the potential for the use of social media tools in research is enormous and that it has already changed scholarship.

The other area we investigated was the role librarians can play in supporting the use of social media by researchers. I can think of two main roles: training in and promotion of different tools. Are there any others you can think of?


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