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Have Universities Been Unable To Respond To The Challenge Of Non-Traditional Digital Scholarship?

Jason M. Kelly has posted an interesting infographic report. He analyzed answers from 176 scholars from around the world to measure their attitudes towards their institutions’ digital scholarship policies. Most survey participants had published at least once in a non-traditional, digital venue.

Kelly found that there was an “overwhelming sense that universities have been unable to respond to the challenge of non-traditional digital scholarship. (…) The incentives for pursuing digital innovations are lacking, and this may adversely affect the ability of academic institutions to achieve their goals.”


Digital scholarship has given scholars new ways to engage and experiment, and it has led to the formation of new digital scholarly communities. Scholarly work is no longer tied to the technology of print, and importantly, it has freed scholars to break away from the format that print imposes — i.e. the journal article and the book.

These innovations have sometimes outpaced academic institutions’ ability to assess them. How, for example, is a promotion, tenure, or review committee supposed to measure a non peer-reviewed blog post? Should it be put through a process of post publication peer review? Should it be measured by its impact on the scholarly community? Should it even be considered a work of scholarship?

Kelly concludes that if “academic institutions are interested in encouraging their faculty to distribute their scholarship in non-traditional, digital venues”, they need to focus on assessment and incentives.

The majority of faculty suggested that they would be more willing to pursue these venues if their universities had better means of assessing their performance. To correct this, institutions will have to create new ways for their promotion, tenure, and review committees to take into account non-traditional intellectual labor.

View the full report


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