Documentation:Digital Scholarly Practice

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This is an attempt to assemble some resources and examples related to digital scholarly practice at UBC. Please edit the page and improve it, with your contributions.


Traditional Scholarly Practice

In the 1990s, Ernest Boyer [1] called for a more inclusive perspective on scholarship, one that would include "a recognition that knowledge is acquired through research, through synthesis, through practice, and through teaching." (Boyer in Weller, 2011; p.42). He proposed four categories of scholarly practice activity that are widely accepted in universities today, these include:

  • Discovery (knowledge creation and research)
  • Interpretation (interpretation and drawing connections)
  • Application (public engagement and contribution through peer review and other activities)
  • Teaching (advance an understanding of the work of teaching - which we now refer to as the scholarship of teaching and learning or SOTL)

Digital Scholarly Practice

"Digital work is both fundamentally different from traditional scholarship and also utterly the same. Behind the work are the same rigorous minds, similar methods of inquiry, similar dissatisfaction with mediocre results. Yet the work itself is emergent and expansive. It offers itself to us in moveable text, in image, in sound, in video, in code, in data. The hyperlink is the new citation; collaboration across disciplines is as common as collaboration across cultures. It is scholarship in a truer sense in that it relies entirely — from methods to conclusions — upon inquiry and investigation. The limitations of what can be done in the digital are unmapped; it is yet a territory of possibility." (Friend, Morris, Stommel, 2015 )[2]

Definitions of digital scholarship vary, however, this definition by Abby Smith Rumsey broadly captures the kinds of work that scholars are engaged with.

"Digital scholarship is the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use and reuse of scholarship."[3]

Martin Weller, in his book The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, reminds us that notions of digital scholarship involve additional characteristics beyond the digital:

"The sort of changes we are seeing around open access publishing, development of blog communities, use of Twitter at conferences and easy sharing of content are driven not just by their digital nature but by the convergence of the three characteristics of digital, networked and open."[4]

Why it Matters

The conclusion of the New Media Consortium's strategic brief on digital literacy highlights the context that we are operating in today: "The current generation of students belongs to an age where being an author means understanding how to publish content online in various formats, being a scientist requires the ability to communicate complex information in visual manners, and being an entrepreneur involves sharing the business mission and story as broadly across the web as possible." [5]

Our students are learning to become scholars and scholars today need to be able to engage in the kinds of scholarly activities that Boyer describes, using the affordances of the open, networked and digital platforms that are part of the way we learn and live today.

Digital Literacies

A recent strategic brief on digital literacy, prepared by the New Media Consortium, offers three ways to view digital literacy, which is foundational to digital scholarship[5].

Three Models of Digital Literacy - NMC Strategic Brief

Open Practices

Open practices, such incorporating wikipedia editing and/or authoring into a course or curriculum, draw heavily on the activities of digital scholarship.

For example, our Open Resources Working Group at UBC, envisions 4 C's of open practice as one representation of the kinds of activities that we (students and faculty) engage in when we are working in the open.

4C's of Open Learning.png

This could be expanded to incorporate aspects of digital scholarship for each area as follows:


This aspect acknowledges learners as producers of content and media in various forms. When students are engaged in digital creation, they are developing the practices of digital scholarship such as:

  • thinking critically about how to represent a concept or topic for a broad audience; what perspectives are important and why; what may be missing from the coverage of a topic; what's required for an understanding of a topic.
  • evaluating and selecting technologies to support content creation.
  • evaluating and selecting images for relevancy and fit.
  • ensuring acknowledgement of the work of others that they use in the process of creating (through citation and references)
  • learning about copyright "safe" options when selecting music, images, etc. to support their work.
  • using basic productivity software, image manipulations tools, web-based content authoring tools, and cloud-based apps and content (described by the New Media Consortium as Universal Literacies [5]- one of three models of Digital Literacies defined in their strategic report)
  • using advanced technical skills such as video and audio editing and production. These advanced skills of digital creation are combined with knowledge of aspects of digital citizenship such as online ethics, digital identity, privacy and security in the NMC's definition of Creative Literacies.[5]


This aspect speaks to the sharing of knowledge. When students are engaged in contributing in an open, public space, they are making decisions about how they want their work to be used and shared (via open licensing options) and about how they will participate in a public space. The practices of digital scholarship here include:

  • evaluation and selecting open licenses to accompany published work.
  • commenting on the work of others.
  • documenting and sharing in open public repositories (Flickr, blogs, wikis)
  • consideration of issues related to digital identity, data sharing and privacy.


This aspect involves the search for and evaluation of information and artifacts that can be combined in new ways to meet specific needs. It involves:

  • finding, assessing and making use of digital resources.
  • evaluating information (verifying web sources)
  • understanding copyright, open licensing and re-use.


This aspect engages the social and networked practices involved in the creation and sharing of digital work. This may include scholarly practices such as:

  • using social networking platforms for sharing work
  • contributing to the work of others by sharing links and amplifying
  • collaborating with others via online platforms
  • commenting and responding to comments on publicly shared work

UBC Examples






Resources to Support Open Practices

Resources to support UBC wiki assignments

Resources to support Wikipedia assignments

Resources for students

Working and thinking spaces


  1. Boyer, E. (1990), Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Friend, C. Morris, S.M. and Stommel (2015) Hybrid Pedagogy: CFP: The Scholarly and the Digital. url:
  3. Rumsey, Abby Smith (2011). Scholarly Communication Institute 9. Scholarly Communication Institute Reports.Retrieved from:
  4. Weller, M. (2011). The Nature of Scholarship. In The Digital Scholar: How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice (pp. 41–51). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Alexander, B., Adams Becker, S., and Cummins, M. (2016). Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Volume 3.3, October 2016. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. retrieved: