International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

IATUL News Alerts

Archive September 2007

Cyberinfrastructure, Data, and Libraries

Wednesday, 26 September 2007 12:23:52 p.m.

By Anna Gold

E-Science, cyberinfrastructure – these ideas are at the heart of the great ambitions and promise of science in the new century. The last several decades of network- and computer-enabled work in science have produced untold amounts of data, leading to the challenge of developing practices to manage and provide access to this data. Along with oceans of data and technology, changes in the conduct and nature of science – notably new collaborative and computational science practices – present both novel requirements and exciting opportunities to succeed in meeting this challenge. A global effort is emerging to take collective responsibility for a growing yet still vulnerable investment in scientific data as a permanent part of scientific research communications and practices.

Today, everyone with a role in the traditional infrastructure of scientific research and communication is jockeying for a role in the emerging landscape of scientific data: national libraries; research funding agencies; universities and research libraries; and giants of the software and publishing industries. As roles and responsibilities get sorted out, librarians are testing the waters to identify what present and future roles they may have in these developments; but these are early days, and it is still unclear what those roles may be.

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Digital Scholarship: What's All the Fuss?

Wednesday, 26 September 2007 11:35:48 a.m.

by Stephen Nichols

THE POINT, OF course, is that there is no "fuss" about digital scholarship—or none to speak of. And that is precisely the problem. Since the late Middle Ages, the book has been the standard vehicle for expressing ideas, for announcing innovations, and for debating change. Although books continue to have that role, print can no longer claim proprietary rights to disseminating and storing information. Indeed, it has been more than a generation since many scholars wrote anything in a non-digital format. Like every other segment of society, academics have adapted their modes of scholarly research to the incredible advances in information made possible by the Internet and digital technology.

Still, while many scholars today use digital technologies and content in their research and writing, and will readily admit their advantages for their own work, most have been slower to admit—or have refused to admit—that such technology and resources are capable of totally transforming the nature and scope of scholarship. Many scholars find themselves using digital resources simply to do "analog scholarship," that is, research that uses new technology in old ways. And while there's nothing wrong with that, a problem arises when analog scholarship remains the standard—the only accepted gauge—for evaluating scholarship in general.

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