Preserving the ABC of scholarly communication
Somewhat belatedly, I've been re-reading Lorcan Dempsey's post from October last year, Quotes of the day (and other days?): persistent academic discourse, in which he ponders the role of academic blogs in scholarly discourse and the apparent lack of engagement by institutions in thinking about their preservation.
- Academic paper: reporting of findings against a particular narrative, grounded in the literature and related work; style – formal, academic-speak
- Conference presentation: awareness raising of the work, posing questions and issues about the work, style – entertaining, visual, informal
- Blogging – snippets of the work, reflecting on particular issues, style – short, informal, reflective
(even though it would have been better in alphabetical order! :-) ) and I'm tempted to wonder whether and how this characterisation will change over the next few years, as blogging continues to grow in importance as a communication medium.
Lorcan ends with:
Universities and university libraries are recognizing that they have some responsibility to the curation of the intellectual outputs of their academics and students. So far, this has not generally extended to thinking about blogs. What, if anything, should the Open University or Harvard be doing to make sure that this valuable discourse is available to future readers as part of the scholarly record?
As I argued in my most recent post about repositories, I suspect that most academics would currently expect to host their blogs outside their institution. (Note that I'm hypothesising here, since I haven't asked any real academics this question - however, the breadth and depth of external blog services seems so overwhelming that it would be hard for institutions to try to compel their academics to use an institutional blogging service IMHO). This leaves institutions (or anyone else for that matter) that want to curate the blogging component of their intellectual output with a problem. Somehow, they have to aggregate their part of the externally held scholarly record into an internal form, such that they can curate it.
I don't see this as an impossible task - though clearly, there is a challenge here in terms of both technology and policy.
In the context of the debate about institutional repositories, my personal opinion is that this situation waters down the argument that repositories have to be institutional because that is the only way in which the scholarly record can be preserved. Sorry, I just don't buy it.