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CCCC 2004: Review

Review: D 31 If a Tree Falls…”: The Impact of Online Publications on Writing Scholarship
Reviewed by: Will Hochman, hochmanw1@southernct.edu
Posted on: April 5, 2004
Updated on: April 9, 2004

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Cheryl Ball presented “Strong Stories in Digital Scholarship: How Time, Tenure and Technology Impact New and Untenured New Media Faculty.” She began with her report of a limited survey (10 published creators of New Media texts in varying levels of academic life) on how New Media scholarship affected scholarship and tenure. Ball found that New Media texts were produced more often by women (8) than men (2). She described her sampling as consisting of 4 respondents who already had tenure and only 4 had time to respond to the survey before the conference. Only 2 had their curriculum vitae’s on line, and one “had no web presence at all.” Ball did a nice job of delimiting some of the drawbacks of her research and respondents by focusing on published New Media texts. Only one responder in her study had a complete curriculum vitae online and had used New Media as part of his or her tenure dossier.  All of the New Media texts in Ball’s study were published in Kairos where Ball is an editor. She is concerned that the extraordinary effort it takes to create New Media texts (adequate technology, guidance, financial support) and the questionable respect for this scholarship will limit our advances.

Douglas Eyeman presented “Crunchin Numbers: “Quantitative and Qualitative Methods for Measuring Disciplinary Relevance.” As an editor of Kairos, Eyeman wondered about how the journal is used in our scholarship and studied how online publication affects print scholarship. Print Journals selected were CCC, College English, JAC, and Computers and Composition but only Computers and Composition results were processed for the presentation today. Bibliometric Analysis—how citations are used—was the focus for the comparison and correlation between print and screen scholarship. The study was delimited to only works cited citations. Transparency vs. Hypermediacy and Historical time frames were used as guidelines for the qualitative study. Transparency is when print text is presented online, but in a limited form (i.e. PDF) while Hypermediacy engages the mediums in more creative and less limited ways than print. Eyeman gave a good overview of the study as part one and his collaborater, Colleen Reilly presented the second part of the study, “Does the Data Belie the Rhetoric?: The Citation History  of Online Scholarship in Print Publications.”

In addition to her own untenured status, the impetus for the research made it clear that our field needs to better understand how citation indicates scholarship online. Computers and Composition had 448 of 4,642 or 9.6% of electronic sources cited in its publication history, but Reilly noted an increasing trend of online source use in the print scholarship of Computers and Composition. Features that impede online citation involved genre, error, accessibility and availability issues. Reilly offered the following suggestions:

Suggestions for editors of online journals to address impediments to citation:

Maintain and update links within and between pieces

Redirect old URLs to new URLs

Use metadata and DOI (document object identifiers) to create persistent links

Include citation information within each text

Link to clearly stated peer review procedures

Simplify URLs

Submit URLs to databases and libraries

Suggestions for contributors to online journals to address impediments to citation:

Include a site map with highly hypermediated pieces

Include identifying information in a prominent location, including a title tag

Include last-updated dates

Link from your personal versions to peer-reviewed versions of pieces

Suggestions for researchers citing online journals in print publications:

Check all citations carefully for correct dates, URLs, and access dates

Work to locate the precise location of online sources

Work to locate the organization/agency responsible for publishing online sources

Although the presenters were not always thrilled with their research processes and results, the audience (including session chair Cynthia Selfe) seemed excited because the researchers had begun to ask key questions and gather data that provided better footing on the bridges between print and screen scholarship. The reserached information and the discussion following the presentations made it clear that our field is still quite nascent when it comes to powerfully documenting our scholarhsip online but the presenters and their research and leadership will improve us.

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