The workflows used by researchers has become an important area of study as the World Wide Web, and the proliferation of electronic tools available to collect, store, and share information has radically altered how individuals engage in research. Yet, as Dr. Steven Weiland, a professor in the graduate program in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at Michigan State University argues, evaluating workflows of researchers shows us that, while there is much consistency in how scholars now conduct research, there is also much variation and individual style. Weiland himself, who has a PhD in English, has written on subjects as different as literature, jazz, Jewish Studies, psychology, and education, and is well-equipped to understand the variety of approaches used in different scholarly endeavors.
Please join us on Monday, April 8th, in the Park Library’s Garden View Room, as Professor Weiland brings to light the nature of the scholarly workflow in the digital age.
11:00 AM Session One: Understanding the Research Workflow
The term “workflow” refers to the logical or deliberate organization of work, and work is often associated with manufacturing systems. But it would be a mistake to see a biology laboratory or an historian’s study as the location of only carefully calibrated decisions and actions. There is always room for imagination, chance, and improvisation. What researchers do in identifying and using the resources they need and communicating with colleagues and others in publications and other formats is essential to scholarship and science. This presentation will feature recent accounts of the research workflow. No less than other professionals, scholars are adapting to evolving digital conditions of work. Still, as empirical studies show, the workflow remains a highly individualized element of academic life.
2:00 PM Session Two: Lessons from ITHAKA on Research Practices
ITHAKA, the influential academic service organization, launched a series of studies in 2012 reflecting a scholar-centered approach to understanding research in higher education. In collaboration with university libraries, ITHAKA has studied researchers in seven disciplines, including history, chemistry, and Asian Studies, and more are planned. This presentation shows how, viewed together, the “Changing Research Practices” studies represent a unique collective portrait of scholars at work, loyal to research conventions but encountering new digital tools for research requiring new forms of institutional support. The ITHAKA studies help us understand how disciplinary habits shape professional expectations and research practices, and what might be done to serve scholars having different positions about technological innovation from indifference to enthusiasm.