At the Ref Desk (5/12/20): We have entered the Age of Lookups. [more...]

Scholarship on Steroids

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 7/19/09 (9:17pm)

Is the pace of scholarship being significantly sped up thanks to the 'Net? We've known for years that the process of scholarship has changed thanks to the existence of things like full-text databases but what I'm been reading in a couple of places seems to suggest a decline of traditional publishing models in favor of a far more dynamic system of self-generated content.

First we have Michael Nielsen pointing to the effect blogs are having on scientific scholarship:

Scientific publishers should be terrified that some of the world’s best scientists, people at or near their research peak, people whose time is at a premium, are spending hundreds of hours each year creating original research content for their blogs, content that in many cases would be difficult or impossible to publish in a conventional journal. What we’re seeing here is a spectacular expansion in the range of the blog medium. By comparison, the journals are standing still.

Next we have Jon Stokes who writes for Ars Technica, describing a similar situation in economics:

If you want a glimpse at the future of scholarly communication, take a look around the econoblogosphere, which has analyzed the crisis in real-time using Scribd to distribute whitepapers, research reports, slide decks, articles, etc. Two decades ago, it would've taken a discipline many years to produce as much detailed and useful analysis of such a large, complex event as the finance and economics profession has produced in the last ten months.

Now, naturally we have none of the vetting here that normally accompanies a traditional publishing model but it's clear that what we're witnessing is a dramatic shift in how ideas are developed and exchanged.