Professorial Lecture: Index

One of the nice traditions of the University Libraries at The Ohio State University is the professorial lecture.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 3.07.47 PMThe professorial lecture provides an opportunity for faculty recently promoted to the rank of full professor to speak on a topic of their choosing. My professorial lecture, entitled “A Scholar’s Dilemmas” was held Thursday March 20, 2014 from 2:30-4:00 on the 11th floor of the Thompson Library on The Ohio State University Campus.

For those not able to attend in person, I broke down my lecture into a series of blog posts which were published (and tweeted) approximately at the same time I talked about them.

  1. Professorial Lecture: Welcome
  2. Being Professorial
  3. Changing Nature of Scholarly Communication
  4. A Gopher on the Reference Desk
  5. Technology is Like a Fish
  6. Scholarly Communication and the Early Web
  7. Scholarly Communication and the Social Network
  8. Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age
  9. Professorial Lecture: The Future
  10. Professorial Lecture: Resources

Professorial Lecture: Resources

[Professorial Lecture series post ten]

Barish S, Daley E. (2005) “Multimedia Scholarship for the 21st Century.”

Barjak F. (2006). “The Role of the Internet in Informal Scholarly Communication.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 57 (10): 17.

Berners-Lee T.  “The World Wide Web: A very short personal history.”

Borgman C. (2007) “Scholarship in the Digital Age : Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet.” MIT Press Cambridge

Borgman C. (2013) “Scholarship in the Networked World: Big Data, Little Data, No Data.” Oliver Smithies Lecture, Balliol College, Oxford. Oxford, UK. Jun. 2013.

Boyer E. (1990) “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.” Jossey-Bass San Francisco.

Cheverie JF, Boettcher J, Buschman J. (2009) “Digital Scholarship in the University Tenure and Promotion Process.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 40 (3) : 219–30.

Eyre-Walker A, Stoletzki N . (2013) “The Assessment of Science: The Relative Merits of Post-Publication Review, the Impact Factor, and the Number of Citations.” PLoS Biology, 11 (10): e1001675.

Federer A. (2011) “Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact.” Journal of Medical Internet Research,  13 (4): e123.

Hahn TB, Burright M, Duggan HN. (2011) “Has the Revolution in Scholarly Communication Lived Up to Its Promise?” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology,  37 (5): 24-28.

Harley D, Earl-Novell S, et al. (2007) “The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Communication Practices.” The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10 (2).

Harley D, Acord S, Earl-Novell S, Lawrence S., King C. (2011) “Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication : An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines.”

Hendricks A. (2010) “Bloggership, or is Publishing a Blog Scholarship? A Survey of Academic Librarians.” Library Hi Tech, 28 (3).

Kling R, Covi L. (1995).  “Electronic journals and legitimate media in the systems of scholarly communication.” The Information Society: An International Journal, 11 (4): 261-27.

Kling R, McKim G. (2000).  “Not Just a Matter of Time: Field Differences and the Shaping of Electronic Media in Supporting Scientific Communication.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51 (14) : 14.

Lynch C. (1993) “The Transformation of Scholarly Communication and the Role of the Library in the Age of Networked Information.” The Serials Librarian, 3 (4).

McKnight C. (1993). “Electronic Journals: Past, Present, and Future?” Aslib Proceedings, 45 : 7-10.

Mukherjee B. (2009) “Scholarly Communication: A Journey from Print to Web ” Library Philosophy and Practice.

Pearce N, Weller M, Scanlon E, Kinsley S. (2010) “Digital Scholarship Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work” E in Education, 16 (1).

Priem J, Hemminger BH. (2010). “Scientometrics 2.0: New Metrics of Scholarly Impact on the Social Web.” First Monday, 15 (7).

Schonfeld RC, Housewright R (2013), “Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2012,”

Smith-Rumsey  A. (2010) “Scholarly Communication Institute 8 : Emerging Genres in Scholarly Communication.” University of Virginia Library.

Tomlins CL. (1998). “The Wave of the Present: The Printed Scholarly Journal on the Edge of the Internet.” American Council of Learned Societies, Occasional Paper No. 43

Veletsianos G, Kimmons R. (2012) “Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent Techno-cultural Pressures Toward Open and Digital Scholarship in Online Networks.” Computers & Education 58 : 766–774.

Wellar M. (2011) ” The Digital Scholar: How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice

Wright AM. (2013). “Starting Scholarly Conversations: A Scholarly Communication Outreach Program.” Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 2 (1) : eP1096.

Scholarly Communication: The Future

[Professorial Lecture series post nine]

Over the past two decades we have together faced a number of dilemmas in an effort to keep scholarship in the discipline of librarianship relevant in a rapidly changing technology and communications environment. My lecture today focused on some of those dilemmas on how we have been able to adopt new scholarly communication methods to allow scholar-librarians to share, reflect upon, critique, improve, validate, and otherwise develop their scholarship.

Dilemma (

As a discipline, librarianship is likely to continue to recognize the importance of the peer-reviewed journal article as a primary dissemination of new knowledge since it provides a dated snapshot of the scholars’ thoughts at the time of publication. While the traditional peer review system and some sort of organized journal structure are likely to remain important, a combination of traditional and emerging approaches is becoming more ideal for continued advancement of our discipline. The librarian-scholars who are embracing the digital scholarship need to help establish the effectiveness and use of these tools which leads to a greater understanding of the factors facilitating and inhibiting the use of digital tools across the discipline.

It is as hard to imagine today how technology will change our scholarship in the next decade as it was when the World Wide Web first went online. One doesn’t have to be a futurist to predict that a new disruptive technology will come along that will change that scholarly communications in the discipline of librarianship looks like and will present us with new series of dilemmas to manage.

[Next: Professional Lecture: Resources]

Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age

[Professorial Lecture series post eight]

“Digital scholarship is the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use and reuse of scholarship” – Abby Smith Rumsey.

Digital Scholarship include activities such as writing, research, and communications that take advantage of technologies in the digital world. While digital scholarship might be found everywhere from Twitter to Tumblr to WordPress, it most frequently centers around the development of scholarly works. I can say with a high level of confidence that everyone reading this post has used some form digital scholarship within the past 48 hours. If you don’t think you have. Look at what you are reading.

One can argue that any young scholar entering our profession cannot hope for a successful career without embracing digital technologies and engaging in digital scholarship. Digital scholarship is opening up a world in which in more forms of communication that use richer media, permitting easier, faster and deeper interpretation of the information.

Data (

The ability to generate and analyze unprecedented amounts of data has significantly changed many areas of scientific research. Such data sets are becoming a significant part of the scholarly record and are being published in repositories such as The Dataverse Network so that scholars can use, find and manage them as easily as journal articles and books.

The use of interactive diagrams or multimedia such as images and videos that show procedures, sound recordings, presentational materials, and other forms of media still on the horizon can help facilitate the understanding of complex concepts. Multimedia can be used so that data can be observed in action rather than simply reported. In this sense digital scholarship is more than just using information and communication technologies to research, teach and collaborate. When taken together, the current networked environment has opened up exciting opportunities for new kinds of data-and information-intensive, distributed, collaborative, interdisciplinary scholarship.

Digital scholarship requires us to yet again to come up with new metrics in an attempt to more fully capture the influence of scholarly work. For instance, the Public Library of Science publishes a variety of metrics for each of their publications including article usage statistics (page views), comments, and blog posts citing published articles. Such metrics may help scholars gain a firm understanding of the impact of their scholarship and outreach, provide transparency to the research community and allow richer depictions of a scholar’s influence and impact.

Digital scholarship can only have meaning if it also represents a break in scholarship practices brought about through the possibilities enabled in new technologies. A 2012 survey by Ithaka S&R notes that even though “digital practices may influence these scholars’ work in a variety of ways,” few scholars see “the value of integrating digital practices into their work as a deliberate activity.” Some scholars commented that using digital methods would simply “not be worth the time. ” Even about one-third of the respondents stated that they do not know “how to effectively integrate digital research activities and methodologies” into their research and scholarship and have no desire to learn.

As Martin Weller notes in the Digital Scholar:

“Academic research is in a strange position where new entrants (researchers) are encouraged to be conservative while the reinterpretation of practice and exploration is left to established practitioners… This should be an area of concern for academia if its established practice is reducing the effectiveness of one of its most valuable inputs, namely the new researcher.”

[ Next: Scholarly Communication: The Future ]

Scholarly Communication and the Social Network

[Professorial Lecture series post seven]

Networked technologies like the Internet and mobile devices connect people to both information and each other, fundamentally changing how we share and receive information. These connective technologies have enriched the information environment and has shaped our ability to navigate and interact with information flows, to develop and maintain new social networks, to create and share content, and to engage in customized and personalized ways.

20110604-NodeXL-Twitter-MobileMM11 graph (

Just as the Internet has created new opportunities for libraries to provide innovative public services, emerging social communications tools changed the nature of scholarly dialog, who is sharing knowledge and how it is being communicated.

For scholar-librarians the social network provides a more open, transparent and participatory dialog by providing an opportunity for all librarians to make their voices heard and participate in the conversation. The social network allows scholars to communicate with each other internationally in real time, to target specific communities, access others’ research, and to attract more citations to their own works.

The social network has become a key tool for sharing and disseminating my ideas. Previously, as a scholar, if I wanted to communicate an idea or a research finding, my choices were limited to a journal article, a conference presentation, or a book or chapter. With the social network, I can write a blog post to get an immediate reaction to a concept that be worked into a conference presentation, shared through SlideShare and Twitter, and perhaps evolve into a paper that is submitted to a journal.

Conversely, I can reference not only other scholars publications, but their videos, presentations, blog posts, curated collections, and maybe even their social network. All of this combines to create a network that represents the modern scholar. I have also found that participating in the librarian-scholar social network has helped to build my internal academic identity more than my traditional publications.

Since communications on the social network are self-published and do not go through a pre-publication peer-review the dilemma of determining impact for tenure and promotion reviews remained. The available metrics included  the number of time an item was viewed, how many times it was downloaded, or how many times it was embedded in another side are not perfect quality indicators but they do help to determine some level of impact.

Once again, a discussion around social media and other emerging technologies scholarship being explored by myself and Libraries colleagues was occurring, and again, had an impact. The University Libraries tenure and promotion criteria was changed in 2011 by the faculty body to acknowledge such works:

“No single type of publication/creative work is invariably a more significant component of a research program than another. Nevertheless, a body of work, which is cumulative in nature and reflects the highest academic standards, is required.”

Scholarly Communication and the Early Web

[Professorial Lecture series post six]

Unlike all previous Internet communication tools, the Web allowed librarians to become independent publishers of the very resources which are changing how information and knowledge is distributed. The Web provided an opportunity to investigate and develop new techniques for teaching, research, publication, and participation in professional service activities.

World Wide Web (

Scholarly communities first began using the web to sustain existing models of communication by creating web-based e-journals. An examination of electronic library journals available using the Web in the early 1990’s reviewed that hypertext and multimedia capabilities were not fully utilized. None of the electronic library journals I surveyed in the early 90’s accepted HTML Web documents. Electronic publications requested that manuscripts be sent in plain ASCII text format. Since ASCII eliminates the use of charts, graphs, and images, the resulting Web documents are pure text, lacking even the look and feel of traditional print publications.

The challenge of how online publications were transforming scholarly communications became a hot topic in the traditional literature, with individuals like Clifford Lynch commenting:

“We should recognize that not all these potentials are likely to be attractive to those accustomed to, and comfortable with, a system of scholarly communication based upon refereed print journal”

Still, the availability of hyperlinks to related resources offered academics new ways of working in research and new kinds of academic output. Internet resources referenced in Web documents can be updated as the resources move, change names, or are deleted. Works in progress can be made available for colleagues to comment on content and structure. One of the first groups to take advantage of the flexibility of the technology in their scholarly communication were high energy physicists. The web site, then hosted by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was groundbreaking at the time and today remains a model for oen scholarlship.

In 1995, I started “Writing for the Web: A Primer for Librarians,” an electronic publication which was been well received by the library community.   I continuously updated the content, adding new sections over a period of 10 years.  This publication not only provided me with a sandbox to experiment with the latest techniques of Web site development. The document itself demonstrated many of the principles I discussed in the document’s navigation, layout, and overall presentation.

Since the Primer was self-published and did not go through a pre-publication peer-review I had to create my own quality indicators to demonstrate the impact for my promotion and tenure review. The review process at the time required that I provided a hard copy of list of sites linking to it at that time including Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, American Library Association, Special Library Association, Medical Library Association, and IFLA. I printed off  comments and suggestions that I received comments as well as feedback from library peers from all over the world on its value.  I printed off  syllabi from where it was being used as required reading or as a reference resource.

Even with all the documentation as to the impact, the tenure and promotion committee commented:

“The academic or scholarly value of a website publication or resource which is heavily used … remains problematic if examined under the light of traditional research and publication criteria”

A new dilemma became how to does a scholar document and communicate the value on a web publication when very often traditional research and publication criteria cannot be applied. A printed version of “Writing for the Web” , which is how I was asked to submit the work for review, lacks all the dynamics elements which make it a useful publication. As a result, an external reviewer reviewing a Web document sent in print form is not reviewing the publication in its native form. It was like requiring a dancer to submit a series of still photos depicting a dance recital, but not a video.

So, even as I explored the emerging forms of scholarship and the dilemma on how they should be assessed, I hedged my bets and authored traditional papers that complemented by web publications. However, a discussion around my online publications and the other web-based scholarship being explored by Libraries colleagues was occurring and did have an impact. The University Libraries tenure and promotion criteria was changed in 2001 by the faculty body to acknowledge such works:

“In the University Libraries, scholarship usually takes the form of a publication, but it can also be evidenced in other ways, e.g., exhibits, public performances, digital resources, papers at professional meetings, etc.”

[Next: Scholarly Communication and the Social Network]

Technology is Like a Fish

[Professorial Lecture series post five]

“Technology is like a fish. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less desirable it becomes” – Andrew Heller; lead IBM RS6000 team

My Gadget Drawer

The odds are pretty good that every one of you has an old cell phone in a drawer at home, or perhaps even a gadget drawer that looks like the image on the right.  Our house has four. You may may keep old devices just in case something happened to your new one, or maybe you just didn’t know what to do with it. As technologically evolves at an ever-increasing pace the practice of discarding technological devices for shinier models with new and different features has become a part of our lives. As you will see, this applies to scholarly communications as well.

The technology life-cycle begins with invention of a specific technology, continues though a process of continuous improvement, and ends with how the technology is eventually diffused to the end user. The phrase bleeding edge is often used to describe the early adoption of a technology while the laggards are the last to adopt. The Tipping Point is the moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses threshold, tips, and becomes popular and commonplace. Consider just 10 years ago:

Each year, the Gartner group releases it’s technology Hype Cycle.  It is a continuum of where various technologies are in the hype cycle. Like with Gopher, many technologies will become obsolete before they even reach the tipping point. Keeping an eye on what is coming up on the horizon is sometimes more important than knowing the ins and outs of each technology. Many times it is not a single technology but a combination of technologies that when used together become a viable solution.

As Clayton Christensen discussed in his dissertation turned best seller The Innovator’s Dilemma, technologies are either sustaining or disruptive. Sustaining technologies improve a current product performance thorough increased efficiency. Disruptive technologies are often those where the ultimate use or impact is unknown at the time of release. Gopher was a sustaining technology since it really improved upon FTP. While in many ways Mosaic was a sustaining technology it was also disruptive since at the time of release we didn’t fully understand its potential for scholarly communications. In libraries, the online catalog was both sustaining and disruptive. It sustained the classic card catalog structure but disrupted how users could access resources.

The dilemma that the rapidly changing technology landscape at that time presented was trying to identify which emerging technologies could be used to sustain current models of scholarly communication and which technologies would creating disrupting models. Not only how would the technologies be identified, but how could the be used to keep scholarship in the discipline of librarianship relevant in a rapidly changing technology and communications environment.

[Next: Scholarly Communication and the Early Web]

A Gopher on the Reference Desk

[Professorial Lecture series post four]

When I began my Ohio State career in 1992, the criteria for promotion and tenure at University Libraries was clear and straight forward. There was no dilemma.

“Candidates are expected to produce research/creative work of high quality and scholarly significance. The work is be be widely disseminated through publication and/or presentation.”

To meet this criteria I got to work on identifying my first research topic for my first publication.

At the time, FTP was the tool which was used to distribute documents on the Internet. The leading emerging Internet technology was system developed by the University of Minnesota called Gopher.

Gopher (SUNY Cortland)

Gopher was designed by a team led by Mark P. McCahill as a method for distributing, searching, and retrieving documents on the rapidly growing number of servers on the Internet. It’s text-based hierarchy menu interface was well-suited to the text-oriented computer systems which were common at the time. It joined existing services such as including WAIS, FTP and Usenet. There are still Gopher servers online today (video: The Hidden Internet: Gopher Protocol).

Having explored Gopher I found it a great tool to help facilitate library user access to the resources that began to populate Gopher. So, after exploring and using the system I got to work drafting my first manuscript, entitled A Gopher on the Reference Desk. I submitted for publication in the summer of 1993 and when it was accepted without revision my scholarly career was launched.

However, between the time that I submitted the paper and when in was actually published in 1994, Mosaic happened. While the World Wide Web had been in development for several years, it didn’t become accessible to Windows and Macintosh computers until Mosaic was released by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in September 1993.

The dilemma I immediately faced was that for all intents and purposes the already rapidly changing Internet landscape, coupled with the lag time of traditional print publications, turned my paper into a historical piece even before it was published. While many will say that remains a useful scholarly communication since it documents the technology of the day. However, my professional goal was to influence the deployment of new technologies in other libraries.

[Next: Technology is like a Fish]

Changing Nature of Scholarly Communication

[Professorial Lecture series post three]

The Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines scholarly communications as:

In the stacks (

“the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs.”

Without a doubt, scholarly communication is a cornerstone of academia. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all definition for scholarly communication due to differences in the various disciplines.

Traditionally, scholarly communication in librarianship has involved the use of mediums such as books, journals, and formal presentations. As librarian-scholars, we recognize and continue to place importance on peer-reviewed publications primary formal was to disseminate of new knowledge. Such publications provide a dated snapshot of  the authors’ thoughts at that moment in time and becomes a part of a more permanent scholarly record.

Yet, the past decade has created new dilemmas for our profession as evidenced by the emergence of new ideas about the practice of scholarly communications,  issues around the crisis in journal publishing and the challenges within the peer-review system. As a disciple we have embraced open access policies and retaining rights to our scholarship. The change in scholarly communication that we have been witnessing has been facilitated by the digital technology evolution.

The Internet has expanded the range of possibilities for scholarly discourse by changing both the means of distributing ideas and the process of evaluating scholarship. The network has lead to the development of new tools which facilitate interaction between authors, readers, or between authors and readers.

As a member of faculty of The Ohio State University Libraries I am pleased to say that we have been at the forefront of these changes, advocating for alternative forms of scholarly communications in librarianship. Yet, deciding which tools and work best to communicate and scholarship in the discipline of librarianship has not been a simple transition. How we have evolved and adapted our scholarly communication has in part been documented by the various dilemmas face throughout my career at Ohio State.

[Next: A Gopher on the Reference Desk]

Being Professorial

[Professorial Lecture series post two]

Another dilemma I had upon being promoted to the rank of full professor was how to act and present myself and act as a member of the professoriate. I took a few UPT (unassigned professional time) days and came up with the following research. As you will see, I have utilized all of the skills I have learned over the past 20 years to only identify only the highest quality literature.

Hair Migration

Hair Migration Pattern of the Male Professoriat

The typical stereotype of a male professor is of one who wears a tweed blazers with reinforced elbows, perhaps a cable-knit sweater, drives a vintage two-seater convertible, and is prone to starting conversations with “When I was at Princeton…” However, I found research that indicates that the real way to identify a male professor is by through the hair migration pattern.

Email sigs

The Semiotics of Professor E-mail Signatures

I also found out through extensive research one that a professors can, and should  express their mood and attitude towards others through ones email signature. By paying close attention to my email signature you will now be able to tell if I like you or not.

Trading Cards

Professorial Trading Cards

In addition to getting new business cards and an updated Linked-In profile, apparently newly promoted full professors get their own trading cards. I’m still trying to find these in within the campus eStores system.


Ninjas vs. Professors


I also discovered through my painstaking research that professors have many things in common with Ninjas. So, if you don’t see me in the processional at graduation I may be lurking in the catwalk.

Seriously, it is both an honor and a privilege to have been promoted to the rank of full professor, so lets get back to the theme of my lecture, “A Scholar’s Dilemma.”

[Next: Changing Nature of Scholarly Communication]