What is Digital Scholarship?

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The Pre-brief

When I am done writing what you are currently reading and it gets posted on The Educators channel of CriticalCareNow.com, the next thing I will do is add it to my CV.

What do you think of when you hear the word “scholarship?” 

Journal articles probably popped into your head. Visions of elaborate research projects. Maybe you also thought of textbook chapters or abstract presentations. But did you think about podcasts? Did you think about this post and all of the other great content on this website?

There is no agreed-upon definition of what scholarship is (although some examples can be found here and here). However, it is only recently that attempts have been made to define scholarship in the digital space. In 2014 at the International Conference on Residency Education, a consensus conference of health profession educators defined four key features of “social media-based scholarship”:

In order to be scholarship, content must:

  1. be original.
  2. advance the field of health professions education by building on theory, research, or best practice.
  3. be archived and disseminated.
  4. provide the health professions education community with the ability to comment on and provide feedback in a transparent fashion that informs the wider discussion.

Using these criteria, we can see that the meaning of scholarship can be extended from its more traditional forms (print journals, textbooks) to more novel educational platforms that exist primarily in the digital space (blogs, podcasts, e-journals, social media). In order to encompass all of these different types of original content being disseminated digitally, the term “Digital Scholarship” was created.

Now let’s take a second and consider this post you are currently reading… is this digital scholarship?
We can break it down using the criteria above:

  1. It is original. To my knowledge, this is the first post on a website for resuscitationists and medical educators to introduce this topic.
  2. I am building on the best practices defined here and hoping to advance the field of health professions education by helping you, the reader, recognize the value of the educational content in the digital space and inspiring you to create your own digital scholarship.
  3. This post will be archived on The Educators Channel at Critical Care Now where it can continue to be referenced and (hopefully!) disseminated by those who read it and value its content.
  4. This post has a comments section at the bottom that is easily accessible and transparent.

So yes, you are currently consuming digital scholarships!

The Debrief

Digital scholarship is a relatively new term to describe educational content that exists in the digital space. Like more traditional formats, its value derives from its originality, its ability to be disseminated and commented upon, and its role in advancing the field of medical education.

In future posts, we will look at identifying and capturing digital scholarship, and the role it plays in the promotion process.


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