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Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future?

EDUCAUSE Review Volume 48, Number 4, ISSN 1527-6619


Twenty years into the transformation initiated by the World Wide Web, this author notes that institutes of higher education have grown accustomed to a head-spinning pace of technological and social change. Innovations that would have amazed us ten years ago are now merely passing news, as transient as a tweet. Music, video, and journalism have been profoundly altered--and we have grown used to their new forms. Everyone assumes everyone else is on e-mail, is adept with digital library resources, and is electronically connected to professional organizations. Professors fire up Firefox or Skype or Google Earth in class without thinking about using "technology." These are big changes in higher education, and they have come quickly. The concept of digital scholarship has emerged to describe this activity. Although the phrase sometimes refers to issues surrounding copyright and open access and sometimes to scholarship analyzing the online world, digital scholarship--emanating, perhaps, from digital humanities--most frequently describes discipline-based scholarship produced with digital tools and presented in digital form. Yet, digital scholarship needs a greater focus and purpose, a greater sense of collective identity. It needs to present itself less as a series of isolated experiments and more as a self-conscious movement across higher education. Digital scholarship can reframe issues of enduring interest with broad arrays of information, it can integrate vast scholarly literature into more useful forms, and it can significantly broaden our temporal or spatial comprehension. In short, digital scholarship needs to do things that simply cannot be done on paper.


Ayers, E.L. (2013). Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future?. EDUCAUSE Review, 48(4), 24-26. Retrieved February 27, 2021 from .

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