The readings from this week posed questions that collectively expanded both the notions of “scholarship” and “access”. In her article Beyond Academic Twitter: Social Media and the Evolution of Scholarly Publication, Leila Walker painted a picture of how social media platform such as Twitter will (and has) changed how scholarship is created and shared with the world. Rick Anderson shone a light on factors that may pose challenges to scholarly research being widely understood in his article Access versus Accessibility in Scholarship and Science.
Neither author, though, touched upon an aspect of mass interpretation that I believe is critical for the dissemination of scholarly research. Missing are the accompanying (or preceding) ILLs: Information Literacy Lessons.
The pace and scope of information access has not been paired with an equal emphasis upon how to question, contextualize, and understand the information. This is not to say that a non-academic lacks the capacity to interpret scholarly research, rather that we as a society have fallen down on the job for providing the populous with the tools for effective interpretation.
Much like there is fake news, there is also research that may not pass the straight-faced test when put to adequate questioning. It can become easy and desirable to forward or retweet a link with the proverbial tagline of, “See? Research supports what I believe!”.
I don’t have an answer as to the “how” or “how often”, and while I try not to “should” on myself or others, I do think we should ask ourselves about the degree to which we arm our citizenry with questions such as:
- Does the author of the study have an agenda?
- Did the researcher employ rigorous research methods?
- How was this study designed?
- How large was the sample size?
- Are the findings generalizable, and to whom?
- What are the limitation of the study’s finding?
These are basic questions that any of us may fail to ask when we read scholarly work that excites or validates our own perspectives or assertions.
The avenues for extending the reach of scholarly research continue to grow, along with the potential for research to influence the public conversation. I would advocate for these efforts to make scholarly research a public good to incorporate the ILLS. For goodness sake.