RFP for Scholarly Communication Institute 2014 Workshop: Scholarship and the Crowd

The Scholarly Communication Institute, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, invites proposals from groups interested in participating in a series of seminars, discussions, presentations, and workshops, to be held over four days in Chapel Hill, NC, in November 2014.

The SCI aims to bring together groups of scholars, information scientists, librarians, publishers, technologists, and others from both inside and outside academia (i.e., journalists, industry, non-profit organizations, museums, independent researchers) to articulate and begin to address needs and opportunities in the domain of scholarly communications.

The SCI is not a traditional conference, but rather a forum for teams of individuals from diverse backgrounds to devote concentrated time to defining shared challenges, exploring creative strategies, and forging new collaborations, in a spirit of bold and open experimentation, and focused on one or more of a set of annually changing themes.


2014 Theme: Scholarship and the Crowd

New technologies have opened opportunities to more easily engage broad audiences in contributing to and benefiting from scholarship. While it has always been possible to engage amateurs and the general public in scholarly work, now it’s easier to do it at scale. The internet, open access licenses, new tools, new ideas and new processes enable scholarly endeavors both to reach larger and more diverse audiences outside the academy, but also to invite them to collect data, provide their own interpretation, perform tasks contribute to scholarly analysis, and more.

Whether intentionally (through volunteering to work with a scholarly project, such as the Zooniverse or Transcribe Bentham projects) or indirectly (through projects like Duolingo, reCAPTCHA, or projects that analyze photos contributed to the commons by thousands of photographers) there are now opportunities for much broader publics to be engaged in scholarship and building of archives that can be used for scholarly analysis.

Many people now carry sensors in their pockets (the GPS, camera, and other capabilities of smartphones or tablets) – how might these be used to contribute to and participate in scholarly work?

What are the social, legal, and technical issues that enable these to work, or cause them to fail?

How can and should such “crowdsourced” work be credited, or compensated for?

How best can works created in this way be collected, disseminated, preserved?

2014 SCI Workshop Goals and Outcomes

For the 2014 SCI, we invite teams who would like to get started on such projects, or extend their existing projects to include more meaningful interaction with new and larger audiences, to convene to plan, discuss, and begin to build and assess how scholarship can best engage with the “crowd”.

Applicants will propose a Working Group of 3 to 8 individuals who together bring a diverse range of perspectives to a particular theme. Each year the SCI will accept 3 to 5 Working Groups which, over the course of four days, will help shape the agenda, creating space for both discussing and doing, in large groups and small, and for fruitful dialogue both within and across Working Groups, in a mix of structured and informal settings. The SCI will in effect host a set of concurrent and cross-pollinating seminars or development sprints on related themes.

The SCI is neither a venue for showcasing past successes, or implementing projects that are already on the drawing board; nor is it an occasion for invitees to speak to an agenda predetermined by a conference organizer. Rather, the SCI will offer the time, freedom, and diversity of participants to foster intellectual risk taking, collaborative and creative speculation, bridging of institutional divides, germination of actionable ideas, cultivation of new networks, discovery of common ground, all without fear of failure or the burden of having to produce immediate, concrete, sustainable deliverables.

Participants are expected to attend and engage in all four days of the workshop. There is no formal “reporting,” but Working Groups are expected to share publicly, during the course of the workshop and/or afterwards, notes, observations, and analysis from the workshop. These communications could be through a blog, academic paper, conference presentation, social media, video, or otherwise. Working Groups are encouraged to be creative.



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