Open Access Research Via Collaborative Educational Blogging: A Case Study from Library & Information Science

Authors : Kristen Radsliff Rebmann, Camden Bernard Clark

This article charts the development of activities for online graduate students in library and information science. Project goals include helping students develop competencies in understanding open access publishing, synthesizing research in the field, and engaging in scholarly communication via collaborative educational blogging.

Using a design experiment approach as a research strategy, focus is placed on the design of the collaborative blogging activity, open access research as a knowledge domain, and analyses of four iterations of the project.

Findings from this iterative learning design suggest several benefits of implementing collaborative educational blogging activities in distance contexts.

URL : Open Access Research Via Collaborative Educational Blogging: A Case Study from Library & Information Science

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Quand la culture scientifique s’affranchit sur le web : l’exemple des blogs de science en français (2003-2014)

Connaissez-vous les chercheurs Baptiste Coulmont, Jean Véronis , Tom Roud (un pseudonyme), Olivier Ertzscheid ou André Gunthert ? Peut-être, mais ils vous diront sans doute plus de choses si vous êtes un lecteur aguerri des blogs de science, éventuellement de longue date. Ces pionniers des blogs de science en français, ayant chacun ouvert leur blog entre juillet 2003 et août 2005, ont contribué entre à ce que l’association des termes “blog” et “chercheur” ne soit plus incongrue. Quant à moi, si je tenais déjà un blog personnel, je n’ai ouvert mon propre blog de science qu’en janvier 2006.

J’ai par la suite contribué largement à façonner cette communauté alors en éclosion, grâce au portail du C@fé des sciences et à mon prosélytisme à tout crin. À la fois acteur et témoin privilégié de cette histoire, j’aimerais vous en conter quelques bribes, en priant les lecteurs de m’excuser des maladresses que je pourrai commettre dans cet exercice délicat et nouveau pour moi. Mon propos sera organisé de façon thématique, en suivant à peu près une progression chronologique.

Je ferai le plus souvent appel à ma mémoire et mes archives personnelles, tout en citant des documents tiers contemporains du récit qui compléteront mon témoignage et donneront un aperçu de l’évolution du discours et des arguments !


The web as exception: the rise of new media publishing cultures

This dissertation offers a history of web exceptionalism – or the notion that the web is a source of radical change and that it is inherently different from its ‘mass’ and ‘mainstream’ media predecessors – as well as its role in various innovations in web publishing. Web exceptionalism combines a discourse of the displacement of older media with the articulation of specific media practices, technologies and forms as “web-native,” i.e. as somehow reflective of the web’s essence or nature. Its expressions range from early visions of the web as a virtual space and ideal public sphere to the concept of Web 2.0 and recent discussion of social media as a new form of decentralized, citizen-powered journalism.

Here, I examine manifestations of such ideas in new media publishing cultures in the 1990s and early 2000s, arguing that while these narratives of exceptionalism portray the web’s development in terms of rupture, or sudden break from the past, they paradoxically shape web culture as a site and source of historical continuity. The aim of this study is not to debunk claims of the web’s exceptional nature. Rather, it is concerned with how a closer investigation of web exceptionalism, focused on the conditions of its emergence, serves to reveal the various historical and cultural legacies that shape the web and our perceptions of it.

In the first part of the dissertation, I explore the roots of web exceptionalism by returning to the influential conceptualization of the web as cyberspace in the early 1990s. In its most utopian configurations, the-web-as-cyberspace would be a space of ‘pure information’ that would free its users from physical, social, cultural and economic constraints on identity, community and enterprise. As much as cyberspace symbolized a radically different future, however, the concept was also the site of a remarkable connection between cybercultural utopianism and cybernetics, or the science of communication and control, which developed in military-related research during the 1940s and 1950s.

One of the key ideas that emerged from cybernetics – that social and cultural phenomena are essentially formalizable (and thus computable) systems of information and feedback – is extended in the basic assumption underlying cybercultural utopianism, that the world might be made anew within the electronic frontier of cyberspace. This underlying assumption may also be seen to resonate with more recent articulations of the web as an exceptional medium: despite the disappearance of a utopian notion of cyberspace, similar computational metaphor is found in concepts such as the social graph, which carries the promise of a universal mapping of social relations.
In addition to the concept of cyberspace, cybercultural utopianism may be typified by its primary mode of delivery, the cool tech-culture magazines such as Mondo 2000 and Wired that entered mainstream culture in the early 1990s. As I argue in a case study of Mondo 2000, the magazine’s mix of irony, rebellious attitude and unconventional production practices was closely aligned with its depictions of the cybercultural future, which oscillated between enthusiastic and negative visions of the potential for empowerment and authentic experience through new media. Mondo’s ambivalent “cool” not only represented a particular new media publishing form, but was in part produced by the rupture-talk at the center of Mondo 2000’s identity. Like the computational metaphor, I argue, Mondo’s new media cool may be seen to resonate with later manifestations of web exceptionalism, where a similar ambivalence about the effects of new media endures.

The second part of the dissertation comprises three case studies of web exceptionalism, each of which emphasizes the interplay between rupture-talk and the establishment of novel media practices, technologies and forms. The first concerns the promise of a “new publishing paradigm” at HotWired, the web-only publication launched by the creators of Wired magazine in 1994. At HotWired, questions of site design and editorial practice were addressed in terms of the web’s promise and what the new medium required. Embedded in these ideas about the web’s exceptional status and the resulting practices, however, were a series of cultural influences – from the New Journalism of the 1970s to the Bay Area rave scene of the 1990s – that tied HotWired’s production to past media practice.

The second case revisits what appeared to be the arrival of a new age of “open news,” a narrative of exceptionalism spurred by the rapid rise to prominence of the tech-news website and forum Slashdot in 1998. With its reader-submitted stories and intricate commenting infrastructure, Slashdot seemed to embody principles of open-source software production, where engineering work is delegated to a dispersed, self-organized group of volunteers. In this new context, ‘openness’ meant spreading the work of news production and distribution among diverse participants and providing an alternative to the closed process of decision-making by traditional gatekeepers. A closer look at the emergence of Slashdot’s unique technological infrastructure, however, suggests a different lineage involving the early online culture of Bulletin Board Systems. And rather than a critical intervention in news production, the site’s history sooner resonates with accounts of the introduction of information technology in the workplace, as its central thread is the automation and increased visibility of production tasks. The third case study deals with the emergence of blogging as a popular web publishing format in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Taking as a starting point the influential definition of blogging as “web-native,” I show how blogging was defined by early practitioners as both a solution to perceived problems in mainstream media and an extension of some of its worst excesses. Most of all, I argue, the articulation of blogging as “web-native” was aligned with what I call blogging’s logic of exposure, extending conventional publishing values and practices related to publicity into a novel web cultural form.

Overall, the case studies demonstrate how significant innovations in web publishing were simultaneously a product of narratives of the web as an exceptional medium as well as a range of cultural influences. In doing so, they support the dissertation’s central claim, that rupture-talk paradoxically shapes web-native culture as a site and source of historical continuity. »


Use of blogs, Twitter and Facebook by PhD Students for Scholarly Communication: A UK study

This study explores scholarly use of social media by PhD researchers through mix-methods of qualitative interviews, participant observation and content analysis of a case study #phdchat.

We found that blogs, Twitter and Facebook are among the most popular social media tools being used by researchers. They can be used by PhD students and early career researchers to benefit their scholarly communication practice, promote their professional profiles, disseminate their work to a wider audience quickly, and gain feedbacks and support from peers across the globe.

There are also difficulties and potential problems such as the lack of standards and incentives, the risks of idea being pinched and plagiarism, lack of knowledge of how to start and maintain using social media tool and the potential huge amount of time and effort needed to invest.

We found that respondents link different social media tools together to maximise the impact of the content disseminated, as well as to create a personal learning network (PLN) connected with people across the globe.

For privacy issue, the participants use different identities on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is usually set as private with access for friends only and Twitter is public and used for professional purposes.

However, Facebook page and groups can be public which are used to build a community and disseminate information without revealing much content from individual member’s personal profile. »


Research Blogging: Indexing and Registering the Change in Science 2.0

Increasing public interest in science information in a digital and 2.0 science era promotes a dramatically, rapid and deep change in science itself. The emergence and expansion of new technologies and internet-based tools is leading to new means to improve scientific methodology and communication, assessment, promotion and certification. It allows methods of acquisition, manipulation and storage, generating vast quantities of data that can further facilitate the research process.

It also improves access to scientific results through information sharing and discussion. Content previously restricted only to specialists is now available to a wider audience. This context requires new management systems to make scientific knowledge more accessible and useable, including new measures to evaluate the reach of scientific information. The new science and research quality measures are strongly related to the new online technologies and services based in social media. Tools such as blogs, social bookmarks and online reference managers, Twitter and others offer alternative, transparent and more comprehensive information about the active interest, usage and reach of scientific publications.

Another of these new filters is the Research Blogging platform, which was created in 2007 and now has over 1,230 active blogs, with over 26,960 entries posted about peer-reviewed research on subjects ranging from Anthropology to Zoology. This study takes a closer look at RB, in order to get insights into its contribution to the rapidly changing landscape of scientific communication.


Promotion of research articles to the lay press…

Promotion of research articles to the lay press: a summary of a three-year project :

« The promotion of scholarly journal articles to journalists and bloggers via the dissemination of press releases generates a positive impact on the number of citations that publicized journal articles receive. Research by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. shows that article-level publicity efforts and media coverage boosts downloads by an average of 1.8 times and were found to increase citations by as much as 2.0-2.2 times in the articles analyzed in this study. We evaluated scholarly journal articles published in nearly 100 Wiley journals, which were also covered in 296 press releases. The results in this case study suggest a need for greater investment in media support for scholarly journals publishing research that sparks interest to a broad news audience, as it could increase citations. »


Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information…

Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information :

« The research blog has become a popular mechanism for the quick discussion of scholarly information. However, unlike peer-reviewed journals, the characteristics of this form of scientific discourse are not well understood, for example in terms of the spread of blogger levels of education, gender and institutional affiliations. In this paper we fill this gap by analyzing a sample of blog posts discussing science via an aggregator called (RB). aggregates posts based on peer-reviewed research and allows bloggers to cite their sources in a scholarly manner. We studied the bloggers, blog posts and referenced journals of bloggers who posted at least 20 items. We found that RB bloggers show a preference for papers from high-impact journals and blog mostly about research in the life and behavioral sciences. The most frequently referenced journal sources in the sample were: Science, Nature, PNAS and PLoS One. Most of the bloggers in our sample had active Twitter accounts connected with their blogs, and at least 90% of these accounts connect to at least one other RB-related Twitter account. The average RB blogger in our sample is male, either a graduate student or has been awarded a PhD and blogs under his own name. »