What Digital Scholarship Models Are Scholars Using?

In November 2008, a report written by Ithaka and commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries, entitled Current  Models of Digital Scholarly Communication, examined how faculty members use exclusively-digital, non-traditional scholarly resources. It identified 206 resources used by faculty that fit ARL’s category of “original and scholarly”. Those sources are aggregated in an ARL searchable database.

To be clear, “Original” means that the content was “born-digital” and appears in the chosen resource first. “Scholarly” refers to the author’s identity as a scholar and includes both peer-reviewed resources and informal sources like blogs and discussion forums.

Within the 206 resources, eight categories emerged:

  1. E-journals
  2. Reviews
  3. Preprints and Working Papers
  4. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Annotated Content
  5. Data
  6. Blogs
  7. Discussion Forums
  8. Professional and Scholarly Hubs (Mixture of these categories)

Some interesting points:

  • Top reason for use of these resources across disciplines was to access most current research
  • Academic discipline influences which formats are considered important
    • E-journals among top choice across disciplines
    • Humanities highly value informal exchanges (blogs, discussion) more than other disciplines
    • Social Sciences highest rated – professional hubs, preprints (Social Science Research Network)
    • Science, Technical and Medical (STM) rated data sources the highest
  • Some preprint sources like SSRN and arXiv (STM) have been around for a while and are established but many others are new and still must gain respect from the broader community.
  • These resources have created new forms of scholarly contributions.  Are they being acknowledged by tenure committees?  Christine Borgman is interviewed about this in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bringing Tenure into the Digital Age.

This report provides a good foundation for integrating and encouraging the use of these resources for faculty.  It also gives more insight into the influence that a discipline has on their workflow.

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Zotero quick intro

Educause published a great quick reference about Zotero in September 2008.  It answers 7 main questions about Zotero:

  1. What is it?

    A research tool for managing online references.

  2. Who’s doing it?

    Software reads bib info from online locations like the Library of Congress, LexisNexis, Amazon, and JSTOR as well as many other Web Sites.

    Used by anyone who does online research including undergrads, graduates, faculty and researchers.

  3. How does it work?

    A download that is embedded in Firefox, Netscape 9.0 or Flock that appears as a button at the bottom right of the browser window.

    Application allows users to easily add, organize, annotate, and export resources, sometimes with one click.

  4. Why is it significant?

    Users have their own repository to store and organize the whole body of their research.

    It also allows for easy use and connections of those stored citations and documents.

  5. What are the downsides?

    Limited to Firefox and doesn’t work with Internet Explorer.

    Located on one computer.

    (Not in this document, but current lawsuit from the makers of EndNote, courtesy of Disruptive Library Technology Jester, threatens the new release of Zotero).

  6. Where is it going?

    Developers are working to make an online version in order to add availability from any computer.

    Format is good for scholars who want to use and cite the variety of media on the Internet.

  7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

    Facilitates and encourages proper citation.

    Located in environment where online research takes place; the browser.

Michael Wesch and Digital Ethnography

Michael Wesch is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University and he is doing some innovative and significant work on the impact of digital media. Many people probably had their first exposure to him through the YouTube sensation The Machine is Us/ing Us that beautifully illustrates what Web 2.0 is and its implications. The last portion of the video poses that scenario that we need to rethink some things. Two particular aspects of change for this post are scholarly communication and pedagogy.

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Free citation tools

While many libraries with ample budgets use citation tools like EndNote and RefWorks, there are alternatives for libraries that need to save every dime.

Three of those options are Zotero, a Firefox browser add-on, and two other Web-based services, Connotea and CiteULike.

Zotero is an open source project created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and is supported by grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Studies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It is in the midst of a lawsuit imposed upon them by Thomson Reuters, the creators of EndNote.

Connotea is provided by the Nature publishing group and is focused towards scientists, clinicians and researchers, CiteULike is supported by the Springer publishing group and is also heavily populated by scientific users. These two are also similar because they have social networking features like tagging and the ability to view, share and add other peoples citations to your collection.