What is New Scholarship?

Both the process and shape of scholarship are changing. Nontraditional forms are emerging that call for new ways of evaluating and disseminating work. Increasingly, scholars are beginning to employ methods unavailable to their counterparts of several years ago, including prepublication releases of their work, distribution through nontraditional channels, dynamic visualization of data and results, and new ways to conduct peer reviews using online collaboration. These new approaches present a new challenge: to protect the integrity of scholarly activity while taking advantage of the opportunity for increased creativity and collaboration.

New forms of scholarship, including fresh models of publication and nontraditional scholarly products, are evolving along with the changing process. Some of these forms are very common — blogs and video clips, for instance — but academia has been slow to recognize and accept them. Some scholars worry that blogging may cut into time that would otherwise be used for scholarly research or writing, for example, or that material in a podcast is not as well researched as material prepared for print publication. Proponents of these new forms argue that they serve a different purpose than traditional writing and research — a purpose that improves, rather than runs counter to, other kinds of scholarly work. Blogging scholars report that the forum for airing ideas and receiving comments from their colleagues helps them to hone their thinking and explore avenues they might otherwise have overlooked.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Add your perspective here...
The technology could be used for any number of types of museum collections -- from generating new knowledge about ancient Chinese art to enabling new analyses and syntheses of historical documents, maps, or information on any type of material culture. A project at Michigan State University is gathering and digitizing information on quilts and quilting practices from around the U.S. and now, I believe, the world. Think about a topic like the material culture of African peoples around the globe, from the various African countries themselves through the dissemination of African culture throughout the global African diaspora. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011

  • Using nontraditional publishing methods to diffuse the mystique surrounding museum work could be very useful to many organizations, allowing ways for all kinds of scholars--traditionally trained and otherwise--to contribute and respond to the larger conversation.- adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 31, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Add your perspective here....
I think more could be said about the importance of 'data literacy' as a necessary 21st Century SKill, and there is probably also a sentence or two that bridges the gap between more traditional (scientific) definitions of 'data' and the type of new data and knowledge that is being created by, for example, the Google books project. I think many museum professionals may not see the significance of this topic to the collections in museums, but it is extraordinarily important -- not only to curators and scholars but to audiences. And not only at the national level but within communities. Do you know CPB's American Archive project that is digitizing the local archives from public broadcasting stations as windows into important themes in American history? (Matt White is PI.) - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011

  • The idea that the definition of "scholar" is rapidly evolving beyond the traditional academic model.- adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 31, 2011
  • The issue of data curation is an emerging theme that will soon be investing itself into museum consciousness as data and image bases grow but for which long term productive use has yet to be well planned, and relates to these new core repositories' role in research. MCN will have a session on this, and this is taken from one panel description: "Museums have moved past milestones such as placing collections online, applying best practices in metadata, bridging collection and digital asset management, and other approaches to museum information. But few are addressing data curation. Defined as “the active and ongoing management of data through their lifecycle of interest”, data curation recognizes that museum data assets, like collections, require stewardship to be seen as authoritative resources for research and education. Processes for acquiring, creating, using, preserving and making these available must be documented and made transparent or they will degrade, become “orphaned”, and lose value. NSF and others now require data management plans from grantees making this is a new nexus for museums, libraries, and archives." Experts from academia, scientific research, and LAM professions will need to understand the impications for museums and tools for addressing the challenge. - len.steinbach len.steinbach Sep 1, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • More avenues for visitors to directly engage and collaborate with the museum!- adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 31, 2011
  • Digital curation will open museum data to far broader use and federation with other resources; To the extent that such resources are the underpinning of museum interpretation, scholarship (i.e. creation of new knowledge) and the development of knowledge-based exhibitions, the results could be profound. - len.steinbach len.steinbach Sep 1, 2011
  • Another perspective here.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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