Monday, June 30, 2008

Counting Scholarly, Digital Work

In the previous post, I summarized the Mills Kelly articles on "Making Digital Scholarship Count." He makes a distinction between digital work and digital scholarship. I think it is an important distinction, but as I have been considering it, I want to argue for the importance of "scholarly, digital work." I'm not doing much scholarship on this blog, but I would like to think that the work I'm doing is contributing to the advancement of the scholarship in the biblical studies field. Some further thoughts:

  • In terms of scholarship, book reviews wouldn't really qualify, but they are an important section in most scholarly journals. Online blogs like this one can be a good way to review a variety of resources. It is helpful scholarly work presented digitally.
  • In terms of scholarship, someone who edits a collection of scholarly essays doesn't really qualify either. I'm spending a lot of time organizing, comparing, and evaluating resources that are used in the biblical studies field. Again, it's not scholarship, but it is useful scholarly work presented digitally.
  • Just because a book is published physically, even a peer-reviewed one from a respected publisher, doesn't make it the final word on a topic. Usually a book only gets a single peer-reviewer before publication, and that reviewer may not be fully qualified to make a judgment or may decide to encourage a book's publication simply for the sake of bringing an argument to broader attention. As Kelly notes, in the digital realm, publishing online is just the start of the peer review process. Potentially there are many more reviewers, and the resource can be edited and updated to reflect those reviews.
I continue to think that it is important to generate scholarship to demonstrate one's competencies in a given field, but I'm also holding up the role of the popularizer in its best sense as one who sorts through scholarship and provides a more easily comprehended summary of it.

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