On October 28, 2022, Dr. Joel Chan discussed new processes to aid in interdisciplinary knowledge synthesis.
Sharing, reusing, and synthesizing knowledge is central to the research process, both individually, and with others. These core functions are in theory served by our formal scholarly publishing infrastructure, as well as individual and collaborative tools such as reference management software. But converging lines of empirical and anecdotal evidence suggest otherwise: instead of the smooth functioning of functional infrastructure, researchers resort to laborious “hacks” and workarounds to “mine” publications for what they need, and struggle to efficiently share the resulting information with others. One key reason for this problem is the privileging of the narrative document as the primary unit. The dream of an alternative infrastructure based on more appropriately granular discourse units like theories, concepts, claims, and evidence—along with key rhetorical relationships between them—has been in motion for decades, but remains severely hampered by a lack of sustainable authorship models.
During the webinar, Dr. Chan sketched out a novel sociotechnical authorship model for a sustainable discourse-based scholarly communication infrastructure. The key insight is to achieve sustainability by seamlessly integrating discourse-graph authorship work into scholars’ research and social practices, such as research idea development, literature reviewing, and reading groups. In this way, this model both draws from and augments core collaborative research processes. Dr. Chan described the grounding of this concept in formative research on scholars’ workflows, working prototypes for integrated authoring and sharing of discourse graphs, and field study insights into their promise and path towards a larger infrastructure that can make effective literature reviewing commonplace.
You can watch the full OTTRS Speaker Series webinar below or on YouTube.