The digital scholar
The digital scholar

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The digital scholar

Week 3: Integration and interdisciplinarity

Introduction

Boyer’s integration function is concerned with making connections across academic disciplines. In The Digital Scholar Martin Weller considers the potential of networked technologies and then looks in more detail at two examples: blogging and Twitter.

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Transcript: Week 3 introduction

Martin Weller
This week, you’ll look at how digital scholarship influences interdisciplinarity. In the predigital days, to get information on a subject you went to a brick library with paper books sat on wooden shelves, so they had to be organised to discipline-based areas, using the ISBN system. Cross-discipline study was not an easy business.
Digital resources have changed all that, particularly if you add in social media. Twitter, for example, is very good at making new connections. But also, with the excess noise, there’s a tendency to create a somewhat confusing echo chamber.
There are more academic-specific sites or disciplinary-based ones that still retain much of the structure between disciplines. This allows more focused communication to take place. But then, of course, it also loses the serendipity that occurs in social media.
On Twitter, we tend to have multiple communities in one space, combining personal interests, people in the same institution, and peers in the same subject. Some people act as effective connectors between communities, and often conversations will highlight similar interests in different disciplines. Related to this is the rise of open resources and open-access publications. It is much easier to read and understand topics in other disciplines if they are freely available. In fact, they almost find you.
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Week 3 introduction
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By the end of this week you will have:

  • gained an understanding of how new technology can influence interdisciplinarity
  • considered how open access publishing can influence interdisciplinarity.
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