Sunday, October 2, 2011

Digital Scholarship - weekend review

carrot or stick. Donkey can't tell

I have to say that I am a bit behind on my self imposed goals for this week in Change11. I had intended to read all of the Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, but I was only able to read about 4 chapters some were "assigned" through the MOOC, and others looked interesting enough for a side track. The book remains in my ReadItLater list on my iPad so I will probably finish it this week anyway (it's interesting and easy to read, so it shouldn't be a problem).

The thing that kept coming to mind while reading the certain chapters (and the chapter devoted to publishing) was the academic carrot or stick: tenure and promotion. If committees that determine your tenure (or non-tenure) and your promotions and merit raises don't value digital scholarship, but rather value the traditional journal, you (as a young budding tenure track faculty member) might be tempted to forsake open scholarship in favor of the closer "norm" for your own professional sake. Once you get tenure (and your position is safe) might come back to it back those are 3-7 years of lost scholarship that enriches everyone. Personally I think that if students saw that their professors blogged and posted on YouTube about their research and about the cool findings they had (and how it applies to the student's life), you might see more students interested in education - beyond the "I am going to school so I can get my BA and get a job..."

An interesting parallel came to mind when I was reading the tenure and promotion committees part (I forget which chapter it was) - it brought me back to my MBA days! Weller writes that tenure committees have essentially outsourced their responsibility to objectively weigh their colleague's contributions to the profession by just looking at one indicator: how scholarly is the scholarly journal in which they have published in (OK, I am really boiling this down, but this is the gist that I got from it). This reminds me of countless discussions I've had with colleagues about hiring managers and human resource departments.

A lot of times (it seems) like hiring managers and HR departments get rid of applications of perfectly good candidates because they don't happen to fit a specific mold; usually this entails having some sort of specific degree, and a certain number of years in the industry. An applicant's experience and education may be perfectly good for the position, but the hiring managers outsource that critical evaluation of candidates to the degree granting institution by requiring a certain degree type. One example of such a profession is Librarianship, where if you don't have an MLIS degree (Master's in Library and Information Science), you will not be working as a librarian.

I think it's time to embrace our inner open scholar and publish a certain percentage of our intellectual output as something that is open and accessible. It doesn't have to be all of what we steps!

As a side note, I was going to do my weekend review as a video...but I didn't have enough guinea pigs to go on camera for me :-)

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