The University of Newcastle, Australia

Humanities researchers discuss open scholarship at a recent forum

Friday, 13 September 2019

An interdisciplinary panel of researchers discussed why open scholarship is important in adademia today.

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities recently hosted a forum where discussion centered on the benefits of, and challenges to open scholarship.

Open scholarship involves the creation and dissemination of research and research technologies to a broad, interdisciplinary audience of specialists and non-specialists, including the engaged public, in ways that are both accessible and significant.

The forum considered questions such as:

  • What are the tangible public benefits of openly accessible research and research data, as well as consequences of inaccessible data?
  • How can we ensure positive benefit by prioritizing research preservation and its open access? How do we readily and effectively promote, study, and archive cultural data and our engagement with it?
  • What are the best ways to mobilise knowledge across researchers and fields, and between academia, the public, and other invested stakeholders?
  • What implications for policy implementation do open scholarship practices have?
  • Which alternative modes or methods need to be developed or employed for effective open scholarship?
  • How can we develop collaborative initiatives to best serve these ends?

Panelists at the forum included Dr Gillian Arrighi (Creative Industries; Centre for 21stCentury Humanities), Dr Erin McCarthy (Humanities and Social Science), John Di Gravio (University Library Archivist), and Professor Paul Salzman (Early Modern Women Research Network). Associate Professor Rachel Hendery (Humanities and CommArts, University of Western Sydney) and Professor Ray Siemens (Global Innovation Chair in Digital Humanities UON; University of Victoria BC) also participated in the discussion.

Deputy Director of the Centre for 21stCentury HumanitiesProfessor Marguerite Johnson said open scholarship is important because it brings academic research into the public sphere.

“Universities produce an amazing amount of research and open scholarship is about giving that research access to the public so that communities can use it in a meaningful way,” she said.

“The Humanities has a key role in this and there are some great opportunities for academics to collaborate with the community as well as the GLAM sector to bring research into the spotlight.”

At the forum Professor Ray Siemens spoke on the topic “Enacting Open Social Scholarship, in the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute”. Siemens’ presentation traced the conceptual roots of open access and open scholarship movements, the digital humanities’ methodological commons and community of practice, contemporary online practices, and public-facing “citizen scholarship.” He also discussed the mandate of the recently-established Canadian Social Knowledge Institute (C-SKI) and its initial activities. His talk provided an outline of the context for open scholarship endeavours and presented positive examples of collaborative scholarship explored by the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute.

According to Siemens: “The major focus is to create and disseminate research and research technologies to both specialist and non-specialist communities.”

“However there are challenges to open scholarship and these include difficult topics and social media; disruption to academic authority; ethics surrounding labour, ownership and the power imbalance of collaborators.”

Open access digital humanities projects produced by members of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities include:

A symposium, Knowledge Creation in the 21st Century: Approaches to Open, Digital Scholarship, will be held in Newcastle December 6-7 2019 and will consider how to model open social scholarship practices and behaviour.


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