I was fortunate to be able to attend the fascinating lecture on the changing landscape of scholarship by Clifford Lynch last week at Syracuse University. Dr. Lynch is an impressive figure; he earned his doctorate in computer science from the University of California Berkeley, spent 18 years at the University of California Office of the President, the last 10 years as Director of Library Automation, has led the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) since 1997 and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Berkeley’s school of Information Science.
Dr. Lynch is the only guest speaker I have attended in which I was so fascinated that I did not day dream or zone out during his talk, even though it went on for over an hour! The role of E-science and data management in scholarship is complex and while he is a huge player, Dr. Lynch comes off as very approachable and is very low key. Dr. Lynch’s lecture mapped out the complex interplay of forces which are changing the landscape of data management in scholarship and other fields. I did not have previous knowledge of the topic, but Dr. Lynch fortunately provided enough background that I and other LIS students were able to follow. Here are bulletin points of what stood out to me:
• Universities discovered they are funding the creation of large amounts of scholarly data. They are now seeing themselves of stewards of that data and consequently are facing challenges in how to best manage, preserve and share all this data.
• Scholarship in all fields is being profoundly changed by the shift in mindset; scholars and researchers now have a responsibility to share their knowledge over their advancing their scholarly career. Funding and grants, especially in medicine, are starting to come with clauses that researchers must share medical data, even before publication, and cannot hide it from the world in storage.
• Librarians and their institutions face enormous challenges in digitally curating and preserving all this data. The reality is librarians are facing this challenge with limited resources.
o Current structures for sharing data are very poor
o How much to spend on new research vs. how much to spend to preserve data?
o How do we preserve, curate, manage and disseminate all this data? What technology and methods are best?
o Who will lead this effort? Should there by a central structure and who will lead/fund it?
o What values and practices do we turn to in determine how best to manage all this data?
•bEnormous challenges in sharing this data, especially in giving access to those outside of scholarly institution.
o Adding to the complexity, Scholars are taking matters into own hands and using personal websites to disseminate their data. This is further changing landscape of how scholarship is communicated and further complicating how to best preserve and keep track of information.
Because of Dr. Lynch’s discussion, I am now very interested in the emerging field of e-science and am pursuing a certificate of advance studies in it. E-science deals with comprehending, organizing and preserving large sets of data for scientist and other professionals. It is exciting to think we have come this far to need “data scientists”! Large sets of data must be managed and Dr. Lynch strongly implied the future of scholarship and other institutions is in E-science. Some interpreted the challenges he outlaid as being pessimistic, but I interpreted it as necessary realism and it is why I am psyched about learning more about the field and the role E-science will play into improving libraries!