Poster Open Access

Communicating: The Forgotten, yet Indispensable Scholarly Primitive

Maryl, Maciej; Błaszczyńska, Marta; Szulińska, Agnieszka; Rams, Paweł

John Unsworth (2000) proposed a tentative list of scholarly primitives, and although he made a reservation that it was not meant to be exhaustive, one omission is striking, namely the exclusion of communicating. It is even more visible once one realises that all the examples he provides in the paper of comparison IBabble), linking (Blake Archive), or sampling (VRML visualisation of Dante’s Inferno) have the indispensable communication component attached to them. 

The aim of this presentation is two-fold. First of all, we will reclaim the role of communication as one of the fundamental functional primitives, crucial in all stages of the research workflow. To use Unsworth’s nomenclature, communication takes advantage of the additive characteristics of scholarly primitives and enters into combinations with all other scholarly primitives. Secondly, right after reestablishing the communication as a scholarly primitive we will swiftly proceed to problematise the notion of its universality for all disciplines through exploration of the specificity of scholarly communication in the humanities. We will achieve that using New Panorama of Polish Literature ( as a case-study, outlining the relevant digital infrastructure for the humanities.

It has long been suggested that communication should be seen as a fundamental element of the research workflow, rather than an activity running somewhat separate to the research practice (Latour and Woolgar 1986; Garvey 1979; Galison and Galison 1997; Nielsen 2011).  Recently this idea wass reinforced by Hillyer et al. (2017) who describe open science as “opening of the entire research cycle” and include communication as one of its key elements. It means that dissemination is no longer perceived as the final stage of a research process but becomes an integral part of all scholarly activities. New digital methods and tools (Dallas et al. 2017), including electronic communication and social media (Kjellberg 2010), facilitate this process. allowing scholars to communicate and collaborate with each other and the wider audience quickly and efficiently at all stages of their work. This also includes intermediary results of the work, including raw and secondary data (Castelli, Manghi, and Thanos 2013). 

The incorporation of communication into all stages of the research workflow also means that choosing a certain communication strategy is obviously influenced by the perceived goal, but also the goal influences other phases of the research process. This feedback loop more precisely on the example of NPLP, a research infrastructure for literary scholars enabling the creation of extended, multimedia monographs and presenting scholarly arguments through linking text with image, visualisation, map and video content. Yet, Creating a new digital collection forces researchers to rethink how their work is presented, categorised and displayed . For instance in "Postmodern Sienkiewicz" collection ( authors divided their articles into shorter fragments with additional iconography allowing for non-linear reading and access through image-interface. These activities required additional work on the stage of data collection, analysis and interpretation. 

In conclusion we will tackle upon the question remains to what extent such communication practices are universal for all sciences and what could be treated as reserved for the humanities in the spirit of Diltheyan disctinction between explaining (in sciences) and understanding (in the humanities).


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