Thursday, December 11, 2008

Digital Scholarship - Rethinking Tenure

Great interview with Christine L. Borgman, author of Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet. At the community college, we don't live with publish or perish hanging over our heads, although many of my colleagues are fairly prolific journal and book authors. In her book, Borgman advocates for re-thinking our analog approach to publishing and scholarship. I couldn't agree more with Borgman, when you consider blogs, wikis, YouTube and all the other digital media surrounding us. For example, Michael Wesch is a Professor at Kansas State University - focused on the study of digital ethnography. You may not know the name, but you know his work, such as the pioneering video below. I'm not sure just how much Dr. Wesch publishes in traditional journals, but I don't think anyone would dispute that this is the kind of faculty member we want at our institutions and the type of teachers who should be tenured and promoted. Wesch is the prototypical 21st Century scholar.

Wired Campus: Bringing Tenure Into the Digital Age
New tools for analyzing information are arriving every day, but that doesn’t mean scholars who use them well are being rewarded, says Christine L. Borgman, a professor of information studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. She contends that the new “scholarly information infrastructure” must be shaped with collaborative, interdisciplinary research.

Q. In your recent book, “Scholarship in the Digital Age,” you contend that the tenure system needs to reward people for contributions to collaborative digital projects instead of recognizing only those who publish books and articles. Why?

A. Data is becoming a first-class object. In the days of completely paper publication, the article or book was the end of the line. And once the book was in libraries, the data were often thrown away or allowed to deteriorate.

Now we’re in a massive shift. Data become resources. They are no longer just a byproduct of research. And that changes the nature of publishing, how we think about what we do, and how we educate our graduate students. The accumulation of that data should be considered a scholarly act as well as the publication that comes out of it.

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