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I'm not sure this would quite fall under the category of serendipity, but...http://openphd.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/the-open-phd-what-a-concept/

I look forward to your thoughts.


I feel an intutive resonance with these ideas how is it done - how does one become an open scholar


Hi Gideon, this is just to say hello and that I've been thinking about similar issues and 'digital scholarship' over at edtechie.net - I'm giving a presentation soon on openness in education, and I'll reference this post, so thanks for sharing.


One way to put it is that there's room, in this world, for the Open Scholar. S/he can in fact be employed as an Open Scholar. But maybe not make her/his way very easily within the Ivory Tower.
So, in a way, Open Scholarship and Public Intellectualism are parallel career choices to the Tenure-Track Professorship and other parts of the "Publish or Perish" system. It's a bit sad that there aren't more contact points between the Open Scholar and academia. But it's probably easier to remain sane by separating the two, for the time being. After all, it's possible (though a bit rare) for an academic to have projects and even contracts outside of her or his academic institution. There are even some tenured professors who have side-careers in fields which have little to do with their academic work. It wouldn't be too strange to have academics who have side-careers as Open Scholars, with some degree of controlled overlap.
In this case, I'm merging the Open Scholar figure with the role of the Public Intellectual. They can be separated, with the Open Scholar being a professional scholar working in the Ivory Tower who also happens to do OA and other "openny" things. But having the OS figure and PI role together, we can more easily talk about differences in terms of contexts. One context, the university (college, institute, research hospital...) is constraining. The other context, the public sphere (the Internet, social networks, non-political organizations...) is as broad as an open field. There's more room for developing oneself as an Open Scholar in the Open Field than within the walls of a given institutions. But the Open Field also necessitates that one brings her or his own structures.

It's frequent for professors to blog anonymously. Those who do so tend to complain the current state of their world. What it tends to show is a perceived incompatibility between working for a given institution and speaking openly. If tenure is supposed to protect academic freedom, these blogging professors seem not to feel much in terms of other forms of freedom.

Oh, BTW, though I signed in using a blog having to do with my semi-, pseudo- and fully-academic work, I have no qualms about discussing things under my own name (Alexandre Enkerli) and identity (e.g. Facebook.com/enkerli). Call it "radical transparency," if you will. Though it's probably not required of the Open Scholar, I find that it facilitates my work outside the university without hindering my university work.

Paul Left

I absolutely agree that making the scholarly process visible would be of great benefit - and would help enhance and extend professional communities.

It would be a little threatening of course for many to be that open about the process. And I think that inquiry tends to be not valued as highly as information.

Great post...

Gideon Burton

Great points, Jon and Jon. And thanks for the clarification, Bill. I'd like to learn more about Open Notebook Science and whether this is a model that can be imitated in the social sciences and the humanities.

Jon W - I've made my next post in answer to your question.


The motto "no insider information" belongs with Open Notebook Science. "Open Science" is such a broad term that it's already being used in multiple ways and is pretty much impossible to define. ONS, on the other hand, is easy to define: "no insider information". It's the far end of the Open spectrum, as it were.

Regarding JonW's question, it's not an all-or-nothing choice. You can run some projects with an Open Notebook and others in a traditional fashion, you can use a partly open approach (e.g. require registration, embargo the data for a certain period, etc), or any other variation that suits you; e.g. http://onsclaims.wikispaces.com/.

Jon Ogden

I think Jon's question is poignant, and hard to answer.

Open scholarship would be ideal, but it's clear the current system is resistant to it. The best way I can see to combat the current situation is to find a host of respected scholars in the field who seem to be in favor of open-access scholarship.

To this end I found this quote from Wayne Booth, said when he was president of the MLA: "When we fail to test our scholarship, by making its most important results accessible to non-specialists, we also lose our capacity to address, and thus recreate in each generation, the literate public who can understand its stake in what we do."


That said, I cannot help acknowledge that Booth himself never fully crossed over to become a public intellectual, as much as he tried, especially near the end of his life. So I'm still at a loss to know for certain whether one can completely satisfy both worlds.

Are there more quotes like this one from Booth out there?

More on Booth's commentary and my recent views on public intellectuals here: http://guildysticks.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-alain-de-botton-can-change-literary.html

Jon Wallin

What would you say to an assistant professor approaching his third-year review? His job and way of life are on the line if he can't demonstrate his contribution to academia in the old, closed-access paradigms (scholarly articles and monographs). This isn't a rhetorical question, but one asked in earnest. Would you suggest they pursue publication in journals, but do so in the manner of an open scholar? Or should they pursue their scholarship openly, with the goal to publish them via the new mediums that make open access possible, even if it means rejection and possible termination? Is this a case of casualties in the name of the revolution, or can you satisfy both worlds?

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