Scholarship Evolving with the Web
July 21, 2016
Is big data good only for the hard sciences, or does it have something to offer the humanities? Writer Marcus A Banks thinks it does, as he states in, “Challenging the Print Paradigm: Web-Powered Scholarship is Set to Advance the Creation and Distribution of Research” at the Impact Blog (a project of the London School of Economics and Political Science). Banks suggests that data analysis can lead to a better understanding of, for example, how the perception of certain historical events have evolved over time. He goes on to explain what the literary community has to gain by moving forward:
“Despite my confidence in data mining I worry that our containers for scholarly works — ‘papers,’ ‘monographs’ — are anachronistic. When scholarship could only be expressed in print, on paper, these vessels made perfect sense. Today we have PDFs, which are surely a more efficient distribution mechanism than mailing print volumes to be placed onto library shelves. Nonetheless, PDFs reinforce the idea that scholarship must be portioned into discrete units, when the truth is that the best scholarship is sprawling, unbounded and mutable. The Web is flexible enough to facilitate this, in a way that print could never do. A print piece is necessarily reductive, while Web-oriented scholarship can be as capacious as required.
“To date, though, we still think in terms of print antecedents. This is not surprising, given that the Web is the merest of infants in historical terms. So we find that most advocacy surrounding open access publishing has been about increasing access to the PDFs of research articles. I am in complete support of this cause, especially when these articles report upon publicly or philanthropically funded research. Nonetheless, this feels narrow, quite modest. Text mining across a large swath of PDFs would yield useful insights, for sure. But this is not ‘data mining’ in the maximal sense of analyzing every aspect of a scholarly endeavor, even those that cannot easily be captured in print.”
Banks does note that a cautious approach to such fundamental change is warranted, citing the development of the data paper in 2011 as an example. He also mentions Scholarly HTML, a project that hopes to evolve into a formal W3C standard, and the Content Mine, a project aiming to glean 100 million facts from published research papers. The sky is the limit, Banks indicates, when it comes to Web-powered scholarship.
Cynthia Murrell, July 21, 2016
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.