Lessons learned: being a ‘digital scholar’

When I attend PhD training sessions, courses and events, we are always reminded that a successful PhD candidacy (at least somewhat, and perhaps even largely) depends on making an impact. In brief, being impactful = PhD success.

Knowing this, I have been reading about how to be an ‘open scholar’ or ‘digital scholar’. This is because I believe that (junior) academics rely on digital platforms for sharing knowledge and information. One of the books I’ve been reading is Martin Weller’s The Digital Scholar (2011)

Though published quite a few years ago, it still presents a nice introduction and overview of ‘digital scholarship’ as “a range of scholarly activities afforded by new technologies” (p. 43). For instance, it is now possible to create, maintain and share a online data(bases) and to create new digital products.

Whilst there has been a great increase in opportunities for open publication, digitally, according to Weller there is very little uptake. Weller provides a nice overview of a ‘networked research cycle’ (pp. 56-57) and generally outlines the rise and practices of Digital scholarship throughout the book. He also gives a list of the characteristics of the open scholar (pp. 98-100).

Overall, after reading the book and noting down these lists of activities/practices and characteristics, the following advice stuck with me, and one may consider this as the takeaway message (x3):

  1. Open Access opportunities abound and we should get over our reliance on publishing in peer-reviewed journals. I’d say that this is, however, a problem of the world of academia itself, and will not be solved easily or individually. Let it be an incentive that OA articles end up having a higher citation impact (p. 102).
  2. Weller explains that reciprocity is crucial for making sure that your network with peers has value. As academics we should give some TLC to our relationships with our audiences, colleagues and peers.
  3. Be social media literate: know which social networks to use (which fit you and your research) and how to use them effectively.

For more specific, practical instructions of how to manage your social media (scholarly) presence, I would take a look at other, more recent publications (and I will definitely be posting about this in future posts). As said, the strength of this book – at this period of time (2017) – lies with giving a broad overview and introduction into digital scholarship, instead.


Keyboard image by pnx / CC-BY

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