The Digital Scholar Revisited

Mar­tin Weller
Open Uni­ver­si­ty

The Dig­i­tal Schol­ar Revis­it­ed

Abstract. The book The Dig­i­tal Schol­ar was pub­lished in 2011, and used Boyer’s frame­work of schol­ar­ship to exam­ine the pos­si­ble impact of dig­i­tal, net­worked tech­nol­o­gy on schol­ar­ly prac­tice. In 2011 the gen­er­al atti­tude towards dig­i­tal schol­ar­ship was cau­tious, although areas of inno­v­a­tive prac­tice were emerg­ing. Using this book as a basis, the author con­sid­ers changes in dig­i­tal schol­ar-ship since its pub­li­ca­tion. Five key themes are iden­ti­fied: main­stream­ing of dig­i­tal schol­ar­ship, so that it is a wide­ly accept­ed and encour­aged prac­tice; the shift to open, with the empha­sis on the ben­e­fits that open prac­tice brings rather than the dig­i­tal or net­worked aspects; pol­i­cy imple­men­ta­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in areas of edu­ca­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy plat­forms, open access poli­cies and open edu­ca­tion­al resources; net­work iden­ti­ty, empha­sis­ing the devel­op­ment of aca­d­e­m­ic iden­ti­ty through social media and oth­er tools; crit­i­cal­i­ty of dig­i­tal schol­ar­ship, which exam­ines the neg­a­tive issues asso­ci­at­ed with online abuse, pri­va­cy and data usage. Each of these themes is explored, and their impact in terms of Boyer’s orig­i­nal fram­ing of schol­ar­ly activ­i­ty con­sid­ered. Boy-er’s four schol­ar­ly activ­i­ties of dis­cov­ery, inte­gra­tion, appli­ca­tion and teach­ing can be viewed from the per­spec­tive of these five themes. In con­clu­sion what has been realised does not con­sti­tute a rev­o­lu­tion in aca­d­e­m­ic prac­tice, but rather a grad­ual accep­tance and util­i­sa­tion of dig­i­tal schol­ar­ship tech­niques, prac­tices and val­ues. It is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly true that both rad­i­cal change has tak­en place, and noth­ing has fun­da­men­tal­ly altered. Much of the increased adop­tion in acad­e­mia mir­rors the wider pen­e­tra­tion of social media tools amongst soci­ety in gen­er­al, so aca­d­e­mics are more like­ly to have an iden­ti­ty in such places that mix­es pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al.  

Key­words: dig­i­tal schol­ar­ship, e-learn­ing, high­er edu­ca­tion, open edu­ca­tion, social media.



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