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Title:Thematic research collections: Libraries and the evolution of alternative scholarly publishing in the humanities
Author(s):Fenlon, Katrina S.
Director of Research:Palmer, Carole
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Palmer, Carole
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bonn, Maria; Flanders, Julia; Renear, Allen
Department / Program:Information Sciences
Discipline:Library & Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Scholarly communication
Thematic research collections
Digital publishing
Digital collections and archives
Abstract:Scholarship across disciplines is changing in the face of digital methodologies, novel forms of evidence, and new communication technologies. In the humanities, scholars are confronting and often pioneering innovative modes of viewing, reading, interacting with, collecting, interpreting, contextualizing, and sharing their sources and derived evidence. From research blogs to multimedia products to large-scale digital corpora, new forms of scholarly production challenge conventions of publishing and scholarly evaluation and the long-term maintenance of scholarship in libraries. The omission of digital scholarship from systems of scholarly communication – including peer review, discovery, organization, and preservation – poses a potential detriment to the evolution of humanities scholarship and the completeness of the scholarly record. One emergent genre of digital production in the humanities is the thematic research collection (Palmer, 2004): a collection of primary sources created by scholarly effort to support research on a theme. Thematic research collections constitute a diverse genre with a range of functions beyond supporting research: collections serve as hubs for experimentation, collaboration, and communication; facilitate the reuse of humanities data; generate new lines of inquiry and original evidence; and engage broad audiences. Yet, despite their significant and distinctive contributions to scholarship, thematic research collections have struggled to gain integration into systems of evaluation and post-publication management in libraries, in part because we do not know enough about them. This study investigates the defining features of thematic research collections and considers the challenges for libraries in supporting this genre. Through a typological analysis of a large sample of collections in tandem with a qualitative content analysis of representative collections, this study identifies different types of thematic research collections, which make different kinds of contributions to scholarship. Through interviews with practitioners in digital humanities centers and libraries, this study illuminates challenges to the sustainability and preservation of thematic research collections, and potential strategies for ensuring their long-lived contributions to scholarship. This study lays a foundation for understanding collections as a significant, dynamic, vibrant exemplar of how digital scholarship continues to evolve, with implications for library practice and the evolution of research and communication across disciplines.
Issue Date:2017-12-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Katrina S. Fenlon
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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