During the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative’s 2017 mini-workshop at the Computers & Writing Conference, our focus was on exploring what counts as digital scholarship. The mini-workshop opened with a brief overview of the DRC for folks who may be less familiar before moving on to a small-group discussion interrogating the question “what counts?” Guiding questions included:
- What experience or interest do you have in nontraditional digital scholarship?
- What are non-traditional scholarship’s strengths? What does it contribute to research and teaching?
- What concerns do you have about it?
- How could/should this work “count” (on CVs, job market, tenure, etc)? How have you tried to represent/explain your work?
- What do you hope to think and talk about in this workshop?
The mini-workshop continued by asking attendees to create an account to edit the DRC wiki, and to begin to edit or add to existing wiki entries for the remainder of the workshop. We concluded with a brief discussion on what attendees were able to accomplish as well as what new questions emerged from this activity.
There were several notable takeaways from the mini-workshop regarding how we might talk about and value non-traditional forms of scholarship, such as the work done through the DRC. One important point made by Kris Blair was that scholars should be careful about the language they use when talking about this kind of work. For example, an attendee had used the language “formal and informal,” and through that language that attendee was inadvertently minimizing the value of non-traditional scholarship. As rhetoricians, we all know the importance of language in our work, but this served as an important reminder than even in our more casual scholarly conversations we must continue to be critical of our word choice.
Another valuable point brought up was regarding citation practices. When thinking of the wiki, for example, anyone with an account can log on and make changes to the wiki. If one person creates a wiki entry, how can she add that wiki entry to her CV? And what happens when someone later makes a change to the wiki entry? Ultimately, the wiki entry becomes a collaborative work by multiple authors, but how might that change the way we value and credit that work since the original creator’s words have since been changed? This also relates to the question of how scholars who use the wiki as a resource might cite a wiki entry, and the fact that as scholars we would be included to cite a wiki entry further enforces that we do value this non-traditional scholarship. Typically, style manuals do not list an author for wiki pages used as citations, so how then do we recognize the contributors for their work?
At the conclusion of the mini-workshop, attendees were left still grappling with these questions of how this kind of scholarship might count. However, there seemed to be a consensus about how it would be useful to have samples of how one might reference non-traditional scholarship in their professional materials.
While the DRC remains open to continued dialogue, we would like to end with one example of what this might look like. During the 2016-2017 year, DRC Fellow Jason Luther worked with a DRC contributor on crafting some language the contributor could use in his tenure case. This particular contributor had participated in one of our blog carnivals, and so the language used here specifically reflects what is pertinent to blog carnival posts. The description is as follows (and feel free to borrow/revise accordingly):
Proposals for DRC blog carnivals are vetted through a peer review process, with reviewers consisting of advanced graduate students in rhetoric, composition, and computers and writing. Upon acceptance, posts must be submitted to editors for further review, revised for content, and, finally, remediated for html format. According to metadata, the DRC reaches over 3,000 page views per month.