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What is Scholarship?

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William Badke

on 19 September 2018

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Transcript of What is Scholarship?

Describing Scholarship
The Association of College and Research Libraries has developed a "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education."

We will use its central concepts to describe the task of the scholar in today's world.
What is Scholarship?
Scholarship is all about a profound discontent, about a quest to discover more, about a
burning desire to solve society’s problems and make a better world.  - William Badke

First Principle:
Authority is Constructed and Contextual
Authority describes the degree to which we find a piece of information reliable, believable, trustworthy.

Information comes out of a
and receiver of information lives in a

Authority is
because we, as users, have to give information its authority by evaluating it for quality and relevance.
There are two contexts:
The author:
What is her/his setting: an academic discipline, an official position, a role as an eyewitness?

The receiver:
Do I believe this? Would I rely on this? Why or why not?
The information receiver must construct authority
as well:
Even if the author is an expert:

Is the author biased or showing improper motives?
Was the information created with the appropriate research?
Is this information relevant to my information need?
Authority is in the eye of the receiver.

If you do not accept a piece of information as reliable or necessary
for your information need, it loses its authority.

The decisions we make about authority are important.

If we reject the authority of a piece of information, we need sound reasons, not just our own opinions.
Second Principle:
Information creation as a process.
Every piece of information has its own history of development.

It didn't suddenly appear like magic.

The process of creation tells us
a lot about the nature of the information itself.
Ask yourself:

Did this piece of information come out of solid research, or is it just opinion?
What were the processes of editorial review - peer review, evaluation by an editor, self published/posted?
Sometimes the choice of where to publish is
an important part of the creation process:

Does a journal article have more importance than a website?
Does an ugly website imply that the content is bad?
Does the format tell you anything about the audience for the information - journal article, magazine, website?
Third principle:

Information has value
Let's see how the value of information
can influence us:

Commercial value:
You may not be able to
afford to have it.

Many academic publishers price their resources
so highly that only large institutions get them.

The open access movement is trying to
provide some resources for free.
When we speak of commercial value we have to pay attention to intellectual property and copyright:

If someone publishes original information, it belongs to the author to sell or give away. Using it in plagiarism or using restricted content without paying is intellectual theft.

An author has the right to control the distribution of his or her information (copyright).
For scholars, every subject discipline
has a significant knowledge base:

The knowledge base grows slowly through research. It builds upon earlier work.
Scholars protect their knowledge base against poor research and untested ideas.
Fourth Principle:

Research as Inquiry
No "research" project has value if it simply discovers what is already known.

Research at its heart is a quest, an inquiry, a problem-solving task.
Research is more than summarizing facts.

Some guidelines:

Start with a question or a thesis (a thesis is an initial answer to a question).
If you can answer the question by looking something up, it is not research.
Genuine research is problem-solving. It seeks an answer beyond the existing facts
Here is a model for genuine research:

Some examples:

What is the most effective way to combat climate change - regulation or carbon taxes?
Is global free trade actually of economic benefit for the poorest producers of goods?
To what extent is the movie,
The DaVinci Code
, an acurate depiction of history?
All such questions demand a lot of analysis on your part to answer.
Fifth Principle:

Scholarship as Conversation
This is very important:

Scholars do not work in isolation but in a community of other scholars.
One scholar publishes research, and other scholars discuss it, evaluate it, even criticize it.
This generates a history of discussions (in print and in person) which amount to a
Here is an image of a
conversation. Imagine several
scholars in a room:

Scholarly conversation is important because:

It helps improve quality (findings are retested, views are challenged, evidence is checked)
It leads to advances in solving research problems
It gives strength to disciplines by solidifyng their knowledge bases as reliable
Principle Six:

Searching as Strategic Exploration
Some beginning researchers make serious errors regarding how to think about information searching:

They search for a topic rather than seeking results that will deal with their question.
They assume that, once they've searched, they have to live with the results.
Today's academic databases offer
a much better experience:

Focus on searching for resources that meet the needs of your research question
Figure out the advanced features of databases and use them, e.g.:

Searching for information requires planning and strategy at every stage.
As a means of education, influence or advancement, information has great value:

The Internet
Position papers
Scientific studies
Scholars converse through:

Publications - books and journal articles that refer to earlier studies and interact with them
Conferences where scholars in a discipline discuss and debate issues
Academic or professional social media
Searching for information is rarely a one-step process.

You need to use advanced search engine features to narrow and refine your results down to the ones you actually need.

If trying one process fails, step back and try a different approach.

Strategy is the key to success in searching.
Six concepts for successful scholarship:

Authority is constructed and contextual
- What information do I trust, and why?
Information Creation as a Process
- How it was created tells a lot about its value.
Information has value
- Financially and it its benefit for humanity
Research as Inquiry
- Not compiling what is known but finding what is not known
Scholarship as conversation
- Many voices shape our findings
Searching as strategic exploration
- Plan and strategize at every stage
There are several ways we can assess
the value of information. Dimensions of value include:

As a commodity to buy or sell
As a means of education
As a means of influencing people
As a means to bring progress
Full transcript