1. Scholarly Practice
The Bamboo Planning Project brought together scholars, IT professionals, and librarians from around the world to chart a direction for cyberinfrastructure development in the humanities. In the first workshop (Workshop 1), held four times between April and July 2008, participants responded to a series of broad, open-ended questions1 spanning the common and uncommon in scholarly practice, innovative and future practices, and opportunities and challenges for the "digital humanities" moving forward. While the primary goal of the first workshop was to gather information that would provide a foundation for the subsequent workshops in the Bamboo Planning Project, the scribe notes provide a rich corpus of data2 to support the ongoing analysis of scholarly practice.
This report provides a distillation of the themes of scholarly practice that emerged in Workshop 1, situated within the framework of the "scholarly primitives" proposed by John Unsworth and the OCLC's "scholarly information activities". It also includes a discussion of current and emerging trends, and areas where new technological and social developments were seen as desirable.
1.1 Themes of scholarly practice
John Unsworth's high-level scholarly primitives and the related scholarly information activities laid out in Palmer, Teffeau and Pirmann's 2009 OCLC report, "Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development", provide two useful analytical frameworks for contextualizing the "themes of scholarly practice" identified through the Bamboo Planning Project. These themes were collaboratively developed by scholars, librarians, and IT professionals who sifted through the scribe notes looking for commonalities after Workshop 1. The themes of scholarly practice and the directions for Bamboo that developed out of those themes formed the basis for initial discussion at Workshop 2 in October 2008.
The table below maps the Bamboo themes to both the Unsworth primitives and OCLC scholarly information activities.
Bamboo theme of scholarly practice
OCLC scholarly information activity
Gathering / Foraging
Searching (direct searching, chaining, browsing, probing, accessing)
Synthesizing / Filtering
Comparing / Sampling
Collecting (gathering, organizing)
Searching (chaining, browsing, probing), Collecting (organizing), Cross-cutting (monitoring)
Conceptualizing, Refining and Critiquing
Illustrating, Representing, Comparing
Reading (scanning, assessing, rereading), Cross-cutting (notetaking, translating), Writing (assembling), Collaborating (consulting)
Writing (disseminating), Cross-cutting (translating)
Discovering, Referring, Representing
Searching (accessing), Collecting (organizing), Collaborating (coordinating, consulting)
Annotating / documenting
Writing (assembling), Cross-cutting (notetaking)
Modeling / visualizing
Cross-cutting (translating), Writing (assembling)
Overlapping teaching and research
Collaborating (coordinating), Cross-cutting (translating)
Sharing / dissemination / publishing
Common thread throughout scholarly primitives, not listed separately
Writing (co-authoring), Collaborating (coordinating, networking, consulting)
Citation, credit, peer-review
Reading (assessing), Writing (dissemination), Collaborating (consulting)
Blackwell, Christopher and Martin, Thomas R., 2009. "Technology, Collaboration, and Undergraduate Research". Digital Humanities Quarterly, Winter 2009, Volume 3 Number 1. Published online at: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/1/000024/000024.html
Palmer, Carole L., Lauren C. Teffeau and Carrie M. Pirmann. 2009. "Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development". Report commissioned by OCLC Research. Published online at: http://www.oclc.org/programs/publications/reports/2009-02.pdf
Unsworth, J. 2000. "Scholarly primitives: What methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?" Symposium on Humanities Computing: Formal Methods, Experimental Practice, May 13, King’s College, London. Retrieved March 26, 2008 from http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/Kings.5-00/primitives.html
1 There was some variation in phrasing between workshops. The questions posed to participants, are as follows.
1. Based on what you have heard at the table and read from the proposal, what one or two questions, observations and hopes would your table like to share with the group?
2. As a researcher, librarian, IT professional, computer scientists, etc.: During a really good day, term, research cycle, etc. what productive things do you do in relation to humanities research?
3. What are common themes that have emerged from your exploration of scholarly practices? Based on your discussion of scholarly practices, what are two themes that piqued the curiosity of those at your table, or are uncommon? What makes these themes common and uncommon?
4. Unpacking a commonality. What discrete practices are involved in this theme? What outstanding issues need to be addressed in regards to this theme?
5. Unpacking the uncommon. For whom/which disciplines or areas of study is this theme helpful? What discrete practices are involved in this theme? What outstanding issues need to be addressed in regards to this theme?
6a. When you look at new-hires or up-and-coming graduate students, what practices do they use that are different from yours?
6b. If you had a magic wand, what would make your day, term, research cycle more productive in relation to research?
7. Discuss which future practices / activities you think would be best supported by a consortial effort like Bamboo and explain why.
2 Scribe notes from all five workshops are available on the Bamboo Planning Project wiki. Selected quotes from the planning project are also available in thematic groups on the Bamboo Program website. All data from the facilitated discussion break-out groups and report-out sessions was anonymized to encourage participants to speak freely, and quotes used in this report use the standard citation format found on the wiki and website: exercise number, workshop number, letter identifying the break-out group.
3 "[P]erhaps, come to think of it, my list of scholarly primitives should include the age-old scholarly activity of 'begging'." (Unsworth 2000)