Digital scholarship in Research Week


With my University’s research week coming up in a few months, I’ve been thinking that it would be interesting if the Library Makerspace facilitated a panel discussion on “digital scholarship”.

A definition of digital scholarship offered by Abby Smith Rumsey is “the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use and reuse of scholarship.”

As Joan Lippincott points out in Trends in Digital Scholarship Centers, academic researchers increasingly require skills in using digital tools for purposes such as data visualisation, text data mining and developing GIS geolocation data representations. The academic library often plays a consultative or participatory role in collaborative research projects that use these tools. Their services are often provided via digital scholarship centres, which support both research and learning and teaching. Often multi-disciplinary in approach, digital scholarship centres “focus on relationships, extending the ways in which librarians and academic computing professionals relate to and work with faculty (and often students) and their scholarly practices.”

A couple of examples of the many library-based digital scholarship centres in the US are the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Brown University, while in Australia two fine examples are found at the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney.

Many of the projects that happen in library-based digital scholarship centres are closely tied with the makerspaces that sit alongside them – indeed, the two fit together like hand and glove. A makerspace can provide tangible support for collaborative maker projects which can form the basis of research and scholarship.  In addition, the academic library is increasingly gaining expertise in data management and data preservation, archives and cultural heritage.  Moreover it’s role as facilitator can assist in the development of particular skills in using the tools that are required for digital scholarship.

What tools I hear you ask? Just look at this extensive list of at the DiRT Directory to get some idea of the scope of what is possible.

So what would my ideal library-based digital scholarship centre, aligned closely with a makerspace, look like?  It would foster:

  • Learning and teaching – of digital scholarship skills
  • Research – examples are Practitioner–based makerspace research; teaching and learning research; Digital Humanities projects/research
  • Publishing – open, multi-media formats, e.g. Using Scalar  – both scholarly publications and open education resources
  • Partnerships – with GLAM industry / library/ faculty / other organisations

I think there is enough in this topic for a great discussion – now I just need to make it happen!

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