Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

Category: About

Closing this blog

When this blog launched in 2012, the Libraries, the university, and the broader digital scholarship environment were very different. The blog filled a need for a collaborative space for faculty and staff from across the Libraries to talk about the work they were doing to create and support digital scholarship, and – I hope – raised awareness of the opportunities and challenges in this area. It was one of the first group blogs in the Libraries, and was, I believe, the only one that regularly published content from different departments and divisions.

In the years since, the Libraries has developed a thriving program of support for digital scholarship, based in the Research Commons. This program encompasses numerous partners from in- and outside the Libraries, and covers areas from copyright to data management to digital humanities. The Research Commons has also become an essential partner for Publishing and Repository Services, this blog’s ‘home’ department. The big questions the blog was created to explore – namely, what is digital scholarship and what should libraries be doing to support it – have, of course, not been answered conclusively. The questions themselves, however, have shifted as the Libraries has started doing more and more work in this area. At this point, conversations on the topic are more likely to start with questions like, “What are we doing to support digital scholarship?” and move on to, “How can we continue to improve and evolve our digital scholarship program?” I am thrilled to say that the Research Commons blog has stepped handily into the breach, and provides a great place to explore these and other related questions, and Publishing and Repository Services has begun contributing to the discussion there.

After four years, it is time to put the Digital Scholarship blog to bed. The blog site itself will remain live, so that the content published on it can be found and used, but we will no longer be publishing new posts. Thank you to everyone who has followed or contributed to the site over the last four years – your attention and work helped build the strong digital scholarship program that exists in the Libraries today. If you are interested in following its continued development, sign up to follow the Research Commons blog.

How to write a post for this blog

In the not-quite-a-year that this blog has been live, 20 people have written for it. Many have contributed one post; a few are regular contributors. Because the scope of the blog is so broad, I am thrilled to have had voices from IT, Research and Education, and Special Collections and Area Studies, in addition to Collections, Technical Services, and Scholarly Communications (my wheelhouse). One of my goals for this blog is to have it serve as a showcase for the huge variety of digital scholarship-related work that is done in the Libraries, and, while we’ve only scratched the surface, it already gives a flavor of that through sheer variety. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first large group blog we have had here at the Libraries. It’s also the first time many of the contributors have had to directly confront ‘digital scholarship’ as a topic, so it’s not surprising that my invitations to my colleagues to write for it are often met with questions like, “Wait…what do you want me to write about?” I also get lots of questions about appropriate post length and voice. Since those questions come up so frequently, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a post…about how to write a post. I think I will structure it as a series of questions:

Q: What should I write about?

A: Read the definition of digital scholarship in the post I linked to above, and think of anything you do that relates. It’s a pretty broad definition, so odds are you can find something. I would also encourage you to think about what you want to get out of writing for the blog. Do you want an excuse to learn more about a particular topic? Is there something interesting happening in your area that you want your colleagues to know about? Do you want to show off your (or the Libraries’) expertise in a given area? Being aware of why you’re writing will not only help motivate you to get it done, it will help focus your writing.

Q: How much should I write?

A: How much do you want to write? How much do you have to say about your topic? I know that’s a total non-answer, but I’m not going to turn away your post because it’s too short or too long. There are posts that consist of a link and a few sentences of context, and that’s fine. There are some that are much longer, and that’s great, too. One caution with long posts, though – blogs work best in easily-digestible chunks, so if you have a lot to say, it might be best to break it up into two or more posts. I would also caution you against biting off more than you can chew. If the topic you want to write about is going to require a month of research and writing, you might want to consider scaling it down. Not that I’m opposed to having well-researched content on the blog, but odds are you will just keep putting it off indefinitely because it’s too big a task and really – is it worth it if you’re just going to end up with a blog post? Most of the time it’s best to pick something you can bang out in an hour or two.

Q: What sort of writing style should I use?

A: There is no prescribed style for the blog. Some people write very formally; others compare their work to their children’s favorite movie. My preference is for a more conversational style, but whatever you’re comfortable with is ok.

I think that covers it. Have an idea for a post? Let me know!

Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? (link)

Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? (EDUCAUSE Review Online)

In the essay linked above, Edward Ayres, president of the University of Richmond, looks at the history of digital scholarship efforts, the challenges they face in the present, and their potential for future impact in the academy and elsewhere. It’s lengthy, but well worth reading if you’re interested in the ways digital technology is changing  scholarship. A very brief excerpt:

“By radically extending the audience for a work of scholarship, by reaching students of many ages and backgrounds, by building the identity of the host institution, by attracting and keeping excellent faculty and students, by creating bonds between faculty and the library, and by advancing knowledge across many otherwise disparate disciplines, innovative digital scholarship makes sense. It can pay some of the democratizing dividends claimed for MOOCs at the same time that it can strengthen the time-proven culture of knowledge creation. Digital scholarship is the missing part of the cycle of productivity that we have long believed our investments in information technology would bring to institutions of higher education.”

Defining Digital Scholarship

In the introductory post for this blog, I defined ‘digital scholarship’ as research and teaching that is made possible by digital technologies, or that takes advantage of them to ask and answer questions in new ways.

I recently came across another definition in Abby Smith Rumsey’s New-Model Scholarly Communication: Roadmap for Change:

Digital scholarship is the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use and reuse of scholarship.

She goes on to define ‘new-model scholarly communications’ as “what results when we put those digital practices into the processes of production, publishing, curation, and use of scholarship.”

I think this definition, in addition to being much less vague than my original one, provides some useful context for thinking about the role of digital scholarship in an organization as large and diverse as the OSU Libraries. It easily encompasses activities in research services, collection development, special collections, scholarly communications, and more. Perhaps it can help us think of the larger context of the work we do, day-to-day, and the ways in which that work is helping to shape the future of scholarship.

Welcome to Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Welcome to the OSU Libraries’ new Digital Scholarship blog! This blog will be a group space for Libraries’ faculty and staff to share their work and ideas on digital scholarship with each other, the university, and the world.

What is digital scholarship?

For our purposes, digital scholarship is research and teaching that is made possible by digital technologies, or that takes advantage of them to ask and answer questions in new ways. This purposely vague definition includes work in every unit of the Libraries. The scope of the blog will evolve based on contributors’ interests and on the evolution of the work itself, but we expect it to include scholarly communications (including repositories and publishing), digital collections, research services, digital humanities, and more.

What to expect

We anticipate that the content on the blog will be as varied as the topics it covers, but it will include collection and project spotlights, thought pieces, and updates on services and work in progress. Both one-off posts and regular columns will be welcome, and we hope to post at least two to three times per month.

How to contribute

Any Libraries faculty or staff member involved in creating or supporting digital scholarship is welcome to propose a post or a regular column. We also invite guest posts from faculty and students outside the Libraries who are involved in a Libraries digital scholarship effort. For more information, or to contribute, please contact Melanie Schlosser. Readers are also encouraged to comment, and to contact the authors for more information about their projects and programs.

Thank you for joining us!