Born-digital Scholarship

The College Art Association has an interesting post in CAA News — on its website — about a new collaborative effort between the MLA and HASTAC to create guidelines to evaluate born-digital work for tenure — since born-digital scholarship is becoming increasingly common among junior scholars and there is currently a lack of attention paid to this kind of work from tenure committees. Christopher Howard writes about it here:

“Even as the use of electronic media has become common across fields for research and teaching,” reports Scott Jaschik at Insider Higher Ed, “what is taken for granted among young scholars is still foreign to many of those who sit on tenure and promotion committees.” While junior professors lament the exclusion or diminution from tenure reviews of their born-digital work, whether publication or project, the Modern Language Association (MLA) and a group called the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) are tackling the issue head on with new guides that offer tenure committees help in properly evaluating digital scholarship. MLA’s Information Technology Committee is developing these guides through a wiki, which publishes both finished and in-progress work. In his article, “Tenure in a Digital Era,” Jaschik examines the many perceptions and problems at issue, including peer review; digital and print publications; and work that crosses traditional categories of research, teaching, and service.

The MLA wiki is here. Very cool. While this initiative may not be of equal interest to scholars pursuing academic careers outside North America — where tenure might not be an issue — I think it’s still a heartening sign for all of us that digital forms of scholarship are gaining wider recognition and respect in universities across the board.

This post is also available on my blog.

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One Response to Born-digital Scholarship

  1. Patrik says:

    Interesting. And I do think it is relevant also outside North America. There are multiple things at play here I guess. One aspect – focused on in the above I think – is the production of digital-only “products” (expressions, online articles, hypermedia pieces, tools etc). It is also important, I think, to discuss new objects of study that may also challenge the established disciplines, and the kind of cross-over, interdisciplinary theoretical zone which researchers/students would often draw on, and which may cause problems in relation to a traditional department. Other important issues include the assessed value of collaborative work practice, spending time in a lab (as opposed to an office) etc.

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