[Air-L] AoIR in Second Life - Scholar vs. researcher

Denise N. Rall denrall at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 1 00:33:34 PDT 2009

Denise N. Rall, PhD. Special Projects, Faculty of Arts & Science,  Southern Cross University, Lismore NSW 2480 AUSTRALIA 
Mobile +(61) (0)438 233 344 http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/esm/staff/pages/drall/ 
Join the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
Internet Research 10.0, October 7-11, Milwaukee, WI, USA

No offense taken from anyone! I've never had so much interest generated in e-research, and perhaps e-scholarship or digital scholarship.

I have just reviewed for RCCS, I think it will be posted soon, Christine Borgman's Digital Scholarship (2007, MIT Press) and I found similar problems with her definitions there.

We may all be very erudite, in generating definitions that are the most useful for us as scholars. In this case, I am an internet scholar, but a really lousey internet researcher or e-researcher as I do have more interest in how knowledge is derived rather than how it appears to be derived through online or e-research based methodologies.

Let me just give one paragraph from my review of Borgman (2007) that may or may not make it through the editor's knife:
Christine L. Borgman
Scholarship in the Digital Age (2007)
Cambridge MA: MIT Press
336 pp.; includes bibliography and indices

Christine Borgman's scholarly exercise of “databasing the world”
by Denise N. Rall

Summary: The scholarly exercise of “databasing the world” (Borgman, citing Bowker, 2005) is a daunting task which Christine L. Borgman addresses with care in her text, Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure and the Internet. For, the construction of a useful and universal archive for scholarly activity and achievement cannot rest on the voluntary contributions of individuals, as she aptly states, “the incentives are too low and the barriers too high” (2007:225). She details the project – the construction of an e-Research infrastructure that must serve scholars, researchers, governmental requirements, libraries, museums and other archival bodies in the sciences, social sciences and humanities – with appropriate and detailed references. Her literature includes the familiar classics (from authors such as Crane, Latour & Woolgar, Hughes, Merton, de Sola Price) as well as recent contributions (from authors such as Bowker,
 Hine, Star, Nentwich, Thelwall and Wouters, among others). She makes excellent use of Michael Nentwich’s Cyberscience (2003) throughout. While important scholars in new media are omitted, the information science side of the literature is thoroughly represented. Overall, the book is a valuable resource to anyone with an interest in the significance of e-Research infrastructures in both academe and within the community at large, with an emphasis on the necessity of appropriate policies and economic models to identify, maintain, and archive the ‘value chain’ of scholarly work.

a closing note from the review:

As mentioned above, the book is a valuable resource to anyone with an interest in the significance of e-Research infrastructures in both academe and within the community at large, with an emphasis on the necessity of appropriate policies and economic models to identify and maintain the ‘value chain’ of scholarly work. It is a rare commodity – a book both brief and thorough. The only drawback for me was a slightly skewed point of view. For example, Borgman states: “Scientists want e-Research infrastructure in order to do science” (2007:201, emphasis added) and continues that social scientists want e-Research to do social science, but they also want to interact with framework of knowledge that infrastructure holds in place. In my opinion, these confident assertions seem misplaced. Some scientists might want infrastructure, but many only tolerate the information requirements of their profession, and some despise the reporting aspects of their
 research. Scientists generally are interested in solving particular problems, not trolling through databases, and sometimes the literature review is delegated to students."

Ok, perhaps too much on the subject, but there are critical differences between those who want to understand internet-based knowledge, its generation and its assumptions, those who would like to frame the approaches, and those who use it as a platform for research.

Cheers, Denise

--- On Sun, 31/5/09, Robert Ackland <robert.ackland at anu.edu.au> wrote:

> From: Robert Ackland <robert.ackland at anu.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [Air-L] AoIR in Second Life - Scholar vs. researcher
> To: "Jankowski" <nickjan at xs4all.nl>
> Cc: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
> Received: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:27 PM
> Nick,
> Thanks for your comment.  I've also received some very
> useful comments off-list
> I should apologise to Marj Kibby and Denise N. Rall for
> jumping on this thread, which was initially unrelated to

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