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Scholarship in the Digital Age

Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet

Christine L. Borgman
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Scholarship in the Digital Age
    Book Description:

    Scholars in all fields now have access to an unprecedented wealth of online information, tools, and services. The Internet lies at the core of an information infrastructure for distributed, data-intensive, and collaborative research. Although much attention has been paid to the new technologies making this possible, from digitized books to sensor networks, it is the underlying social and policy changes that will have the most lasting effect on the scholarly enterprise. In Scholarship in the Digital Age, Christine Borgman explores the technical, social, legal, and economic aspects of the kind of infrastructure that we should be building for scholarly research in the twenty-first century. Borgman describes the roles that information technology plays at every stage in the life cycle of a research project and contrasts these new capabilities with the relatively stable system of scholarly communication, which remains based on publishing in journals, books, and conference proceedings. No framework for the impending "data deluge" exists comparable to that for publishing. Analyzing scholarly practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, Borgman compares each discipline's approach to infrastructure issues. In the process, she challenges the many stakeholders in the scholarly infrastructure--scholars, publishers, libraries, funding agencies, and others--to look beyond their own domains to address the interaction of technical, legal, economic, social, political, and disciplinary concerns. Scholarship in the Digital Age will provoke a stimulating conversation among all who depend on a rich and robust scholarly environment.Christine L. Borgman is Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World (MIT Press, 2000).

    eISBN: 978-0-262-25578-3
    Subjects: Technology, Library Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Detailed Contents
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Christine L. Borgman
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  6. 1 Scholarship at a Crossroads
    (pp. 1-12)

    The Internet is now an integral component of academic life. Faculty and students alike rely on Internet connections for interpersonal communication, access to information resources in support of research and learning, access to administrative resources, entertainment, and day-to-day tasks such as driving directions, dictionary and phone lookups, and restaurant reservations. In a few short years, we have gone from “logging on” to do specific tasks to “always on,” where the Internet is the communication channel of first resort for a growing array of activities. As wireless connectivity continues to improve, we have gone from desktop to laptop for Internet access,...

  7. 2 Building the Scholarly Infrastructure
    (pp. 13-32)

    The initiatives of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to build national and global information infrastructures are hardly the first grand visions to unite the world of information. Notions of a “global information system” originated in the fifteenth century, as intercontinental sea routes opened and printing technology advanced (Neelameghan and Tocatlian 1985). Paul Otlet’s bibliographic networks of the 1930s were a precursor to hypertext (Rayward 1991, 1994; Rayward and Buckland 1992; RieussetLemarie 1997). “Memex,” as envisioned by Vannevar Bush in 1945, anticipated the development of personal computers, indexing tools, hyperlinking, and visualization software. That vision was instrumental in launching...

  8. 3 Embedded Everywhere
    (pp. 33-46)

    Scholarly information infrastructure is an amorphous concept. Notions of scholarship, information, and infrastructure are deeply embedded in technology, policy, and social arrangements. Twenty-first century initiatives in e-Research and cyberinfrastructure build implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, on twentieth-century advances in computer networks, telecommunications, knowledge organization, information retrieval, digital libraries, and tools for collaborative work. In turn, those advances build on earlier work in publishing, printing, distribution, and communication technologies. Underlying the technical and policy developments are theories and philosophies about what is socially acceptable and appropriate. An important step in examining directions for digital scholarship is to make the invisible assumptions visible....

  9. 4 The Continuity of Scholarly Communication
    (pp. 47-74)

    Communication is the essence of scholarship, as many observers have said in many ways (Garvey 1979; Meadows 1974, 1998; Paisley 1984). Scholarship is an inherently social activity, involving a wide range of public and private interactions within a research community. Publication, as the public report of research, is part of a continuous cycle of reading, writing, discussing, searching, investigating, presenting, submitting, and reviewing. No scholarly publication stands alone. Each new work in a field is positioned relative to others through the process of citing relevant literature.

    Between the most public and private forms of communication lies a wide range of...

  10. 5 The Discontinuity of Scholarly Publishing
    (pp. 75-114)

    The principles of open science have sustained the scholarly communication system for several centuries. For the latter half of the twentieth century, the legitimization, dissemination, and access, preservation, and curation functions of scholarly communication remained remarkably stable. It is the means by which these functions are accomplished that have metamorphosed through the use of networked information technologies. Scholarly practices vary greatly within and between fields, disciplines, and countries, yet as a whole the system seems to function fairly well. Economists and science policymakers generally agree that the open science model is effective and efficient, and thus they are reluctant to...

  11. 6 Data: The Input and Output of Scholarship
    (pp. 115-148)

    The predicted data deluge is already a reality in many fields. Scientific instruments are generating data at greater speeds, densities, and detail than heretofore possible. Older data are being digitized from print and analog forms at a prodigious rate. As data storage capacity increases and storage cost decreases, preserving these vast amounts of data is becoming feasible. Improvements in searching, analysis, and visualization tools are enabling scholars to interpret ever-larger amounts of data.

    This wealth of data and tools offers an array of research opportunities for the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Data sets are becoming an end product of...

  12. 7 Building an Infrastructure for Information
    (pp. 149-178)

    Scholarly publishing is in the midst of restructuring, and data are becoming a valued end product of scholarship. New technologies, economics, and policies enable scholars to disseminate their publications more widely and to explore new research questions by mining publicly accessible data. Yet scholars’ participation in self-archiving and institutional repositories is low, and data sharing is the norm in only a few fields.

    The risks in constructing grand technological infrastructures lie in assuming that “if we build it, they will come.” Scholars make large investments of time and money in creating their work environments. They become accustomed to their own...

  13. 8 Disciplines, Documents, and Data
    (pp. 179-226)

    The scholarly information infrastructure will be of little value without a rich and robust content layer on top. Information from all parts of the life cycle—raw data through final publications—is even more useful when linked into a value chain. Libraries and publishers assure access to publications, but no comparable infrastructure exists for access to data and unpublished resources. Because the academic reward system relies heavily on publication, scholars have strong incentives to publish their scholarly work and to ensure that it is widely disseminated and accessible. They have far fewer incentives, and many disincentives, to share their data...

  14. 9 The View from Here
    (pp. 227-266)

    Work is well under way to build an advanced information infrastructure to support scholarship and learning within the rubrics of cyberinfrastructure, e-Science, e-Research, e-Infrastructure, and other terms soon to be invented. The details and deployments are changing too quickly to be captured here. Printed books such as this one are better forums to explore goals and principles in depth than to report current details, in any case. What is clear at this stage is that information is more crucial to scholarship than is the infrastructure per se. The content will outlive any technical architecture. Scholarly information is expensive to produce,...

  15. References
    (pp. 267-320)
  16. Index
    (pp. 321-336)