Sharing Scholarship

History Academics in the Digital World

In today’s digital world it is to be expected that history academics would become intertwined with it. This can really be seen in PhD programs where many history students are now creating digital dissertations. Many of these dissertations combine the traditional with digital formatting. This means that the students do traditional research and then add digital touches like pictures, maps, or charts. There are some draw backs to this new method mainly when it comes to the student’s advisers. The main roadblock they would run into is the amount of technological knowledge their adviser has. The push to move to digital dissertations spurred from George Mason University, where they wrote the basic guidelines for these types of projects. These guidelines break down what is needed for a totally digital dissertation as well as hybrid ones. With this type of method available it could really help get research out to the world. Instead of having to wait and publish a dissertation in a book or journal a PhD student could upload it online where it can be seen by many historians and they can also get almost instant feedback in their work. The advancements in digital technology have also helped advance academic journals. Many journals have switched to an online format where anyone can access them instead of having to wait for a printed version to hit shelves. A good example of an online academic journal would be the Journal of the American Revolution. In this journal you can access articles on specific events, people, and even reviews of the latest books. This is all done with the click of a mouse instead of having to subscribe to the journal which could cost money and wait for it to be mailed or having to travel to the nearest bookstore to purchase it. These advancements in digital technology are very beneficial to the study of history. With these new outlets information is available to a wider audience instead of only being accessible to a handful of historians and students. With the push for digital dissertation in all fields it can be seen that the further we go the more likely digital technology is to become the number one tool for academics  

3 replies on “History Academics in the Digital World”

I actually have an email subscription to that journal. I get emails from them whenever there’s new articles uploaded, and I think it’s a great way to stay up-to-date on scholarship. Even if I don’t end up reading the whole article, I can see what kinds of questions that historians today are asking. So I think you’re right to say that online academic journals can be a great resource, even for those who don’t have a history degree.

I’ve heard of the journal before but never visited the site and I don’t believe I have ever read an article or review listed there. The link was helpful, however, and I went and looked at the site. I think this is a solid step for academic journals and their site gives a good description. “Blending modern research with formal presention” (referring to their option to also buy print copies of their journal editions). While the readings for the week did discuss journals heavily (and dissertations) I feel the main challenge wasn’t necessarily towards these individual topics as they move toward digital mediums. I feel the argument was really centered around challenging the academic institution as a whole or the “orthodoxy” as I mention in my post. Well thought out post and thanks for sharing the link, it was very helpful.

Sometimes Universities push back against digital dissertations. How should students fight for digital dissertations their reasonings for and refute the University’s reasons against them? I like that you included the link to an academic journal that does not have pay walls. As you said this will enable a more diverse audience to read the authors’ findings, but there are others who will not want to read a traditional dissertation format. How can historians reach those who cannot or will not read traditional dissertations?

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