Archive - June 5, 2015

Open Scholarship: Accessible to Whom? [#CuriousCoLab]

Open Scholarship: Accessible to Whom? [#CuriousCoLab]

George Veletsianos and Royce Kimmons’s article “Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship” provides an excellent overview of the ways that open scholarship is poised to transform academic research. Yet it doesn’t really consider open scholarship from a community partner’s point of view. This was something I had to consider when teaching a service-learning course and having students blog about their experiences. There are obvious arguments against having raw reflection publicly available, though on the other hand there are benefits to sharing one’s working thoughts with others and collaborating online. Should there be—or can there be—limits on whom the preliminary work reaches? While incremental open scholarship upholds transparency, community partners may have qualms about discussing in a public forum difficulties their clients face and the difficulties of addressing those needs. So in some cases, it may be better to hold off until there are final outcomes from CEnR so that everyone involved can weigh in on how those results might be presented. It would be important, too, that these outcomes are not expressed only in discipline-specific or academic discourse. Open scholarship demands that large audiences be able appreciate the value of the work.

Here’s where we also need to consider dissemination venues. One assumption Veletsianos and Kimmons discuss is the role of Internet technologies in open scholarship, which is thought to be “an emergent scholarly phenomenon that is co-evolutionary with technological advancements in the larger culture.” But is access to the technologies we’re using for open scholarship limited for the underprivileged communities and less established organizations that may be involved in our CEnR? For example, my service-learning students last semester at first thought social media would be the perfect way to get the word out about an initiative, only to realize that the community didn’t use the web as much or in the same ways as they did. Veletsianos and Kimmons note that “scholars need to develop an understanding of the affordance of the participatory web for scholarship and consider the implications of online identity and digital participation.” For CEnR, I argue that this requires thinking about how the community you collaborate with actually engages with these technologies (or what alternative technologies it prefers to use). Otherwise, what difference is there between a blog post and an article in a small journal if the post doesn’t reach and engage the community it is speaking about?

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