Is Digital Scholarship Meaningful?: A Campus Study Tracking Multidisciplinary Perceptions
Keywords:digital scholarship, academic libraries, qualitative data, needs assessment
Increased computational and multimodal approaches to research over the past decades have enabled scholars and learners to forge creative avenues of inquiry, adopt new methodological approaches, and interrogate information in innovative ways. As such, academic libraries have begun to offer a suite of services to support these digitally inflected and data-intense research strategies. These supports, dubbed digital scholarship services in the library profession, break traditional disciplinary boundaries and highlight the methodological significance of research inquiry. Externally, however, these practices appear as domain-specific niches, e.g., digital history or digital humanities in humanities disciplines, e-science and e-research in STEM, and e-social science or computational social science in social science disciplines. The authors conducted a study examining the meaningfulness of the term digital scholarship within the local context at University of Colorado Boulder by investigating how the interpretation of digital scholarship varies according to graduate students, faculty, and other researchers. Nearly half of the definitions (46 percent) mentioned research process or methods as part of digital scholarship. Faculty and staff declined or were unable to define digital scholarship more often than graduate students or post-doctoral researchers. Therefore, digital scholarship as a term is not meaningful to all researchers. We recommend that librarians inflect their practices with the understanding that researchers and library users’ perceptions of digital scholarship vary greatly across contexts.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Frederick Carey, Melissa Hart Cantrell, Stacy Gilbert, Philip B. White, Katherine Mika
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