Report on 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication @insidehighered
"The poster session is an important but usually humble component of an academic conference -- though you’d never know that from a promotional video for one held at the University of Oxford this month. The clip looks like the trailer for a sci-fi Hollywood blockbuster. The name of the conference, Force 2015, sounds like one, too. Besides its snappy acronym, the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship group ('a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders') has a manifesto offering a comprehensive vision of post-Gutenbergian intellectual life. Issued in 2011, it forecasts 'a future in which scientific information and scholarly communication more generally become part of a global, universal and explicit network of knowledge; where every claim, hypothesis, argument -- every significant element of the discourse -- can be explicitly represented, along with supporting data, software, workflows, multimedia, external commentary and information about provenance. In this world of networked knowledge objects, it would be clear how the entities and discourse components are related to each other, including relationships to previous scholarship; learning about a new topic means absorbing networks of information, not individually reading thousands of documents' ... The new Web site 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication may not have been intended as an interim report on how that future is shaping up, but it has the features of one even so. It’s the online complement to the Force 2015 poster of the same name, prepared by Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer, both from Utrecht University Library in the Netherlands ... Bosman is the subject librarian in the geosciences; Kramer, in the life sciences and medicine ... The most striking element of both the poster and the site is a multicolored circular chart that looks something like a zodiac or gaming wheel. (See bottom of this article for a larger version than appears on top.) It flashes by in the opening seconds of the aforementioned video, too fast for the viewer to notice that it is divided into six sectors: discovery, analysis, writing, publication, outreach and assessment. There are little logos in each, representing digital tools and products ... It’s the Great Cycle of Research Life, so to speak -- beginning with, and ever returning to, the zone marked 'discovery' ... After contemplating the 101 Innovations mandala for a while, I contacted the site's creators in hopes of understanding its mysteries. At a poster session, there’s usually someone around to explain things only implicit in the poster itself, which can otherwise be puzzling ... My best guess had been that the workflow charts might have been intended as recommendations of how researchers could combine the available digital tools. That, it turns out, was wide of the mark. The charts are heuristic rather than prescriptive. 'None of the workflow charts are meant as templates for researchers to adopt,' Kramer and Bosman explained, 'more as primers for them to think about the tools they use and the type of workflow that best characterizes the way they work.' The charts provide 'a starting point for discussions with researcher groups, such as graduate students, postdocs and faculty,' in order to determine existing practices and developing needs ... Bosman and Kramer also developed a typology of scholarly workflows, ranging from the neo-Luddite to the way-early adopter ..."