The Digital Scholar Revisited

Weller, Martin (2018). The Digital Scholar Revisited. The Digital Scholar: Philosopher’s Lab, 1(2) pp. 52–71.



The book The Digital Scholar was published in 2011, and used Boyer’s framework of scholarship to examine the possible impact of digital, networked technology on scholarly practice. In 2011 the general attitude towards digital scholarship was cautious, although areas of innovative practice were emerging. Using this book as a basis, the author considers changes in digital scholarship since its publication. Five key themes are identified: mainstreaming of digital scholarship, so that it is a widely accepted and encouraged practice; the shift to open, with the emphasis on the benefits that open practice brings rather than the digital or networked aspects; policy implementation, particularly in areas of educational technology platforms, open access policies and open educational resources; network identity, emphasising the development of academic identity through social media and other tools; criticality of digital scholarship, which examines the negative issues associated with online abuse, privacy and data usage. Each of these themes is explored, and their impact in terms of Boyer’s original framing of scholarly activity considered. Boyer’s four scholarly activities of discovery, integration, application and teaching can be viewed from the perspective of these five themes. In conclusion what has been realised does not constitute a revolution in academic practice, but rather a gradual acceptance and utilisation of digital scholarship techniques, practices and values. It is simultaneously true that both radical change has taken place, and nothing has fundamentally altered. Much of the increased adoption in academia mirrors the wider penetration of social media tools amongst society in general, so academics are more likely to have an identity in such places that mixes professional and personal.

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