<span class='p-name'>Digitally Native Scholarship</span>

Digitally Native Scholarship

I’ve experimented open scholarship or research in online and hybrid spaces over the last decade. Most of this has been motivated by initial questions about new and digital tools/spaces, and wondering why we cannot use them for research and scholarship. Across this work, I’ve tried to document my thinking and reflect on these experiences in this blog. 

To that end, I’m currently working with some colleagues on a manuscript to define what might be meant by “digitally native scholarship.” I’ve been motivated by some thinking about how we might be digitizing traditional scholarship practices as opposed to identifying, developing, & utilizing digitally native scholarship practices.

In the article we’ll define these concepts and problematize what is meant by “scholarship” and a “scholar.” We’ll also talk about the challenges and opportunities in this work. For now, we wanted to send out a trial framing of this area to see what others may suggest. This is also an attempt at injecting some “digital scholarship” into the mix. 🙂

In this post I’ve shared our initial framing about this area to get your feedback. Please feel free to leave comments below, comment in Hypothesis, or send me an email (wiobyrne@gmail.com).

What is Digitally Native Scholarship?

Digitally native scholarship (DNS) is the principles and practices about the use of digital and analog texts, tools, and spaces to advance teaching, research, and practice of a scholarly or academic field through rigorous inquiry. More directly, this focuses on the use, maintenance, and creation of digital texts and tools to make claims about the world as valid and trustworthy as possible, and make them known to the public. DNS leverages the specific affordances of digital texts and tools to move from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal to foster the development of learning communities, encourage self-reflection, enhance individual participation and interaction, and support collaborative learning. This has the potential to lead to enhanced and democratic dialogue around research and scholarship.


DNS is defined by two intersecting lenses as defined by processes and practices that move from the Intrapersonal to the Interpersonal. The Intrapersonal components of DNS are identified by perspectives that are user-driven, self-study, and transparent. User-driven design involves a focus on the needs and inquiry pursuits of the individual (XXXX). Self-study involves a self-reflective process that integrates aspects of internal dialogue (XXXX). Transparency in DNS involves an openness in documentation of work process and product to allow the scholar to review learning over time (XXXX).  If the individual decides to extend beyond the work of the Intrapersonal, DNS indicates a series of tenets that inform work in social spaces.


The Interpersonal components of DNS are identified by perspectives that are democratic, dialogic, and open. Democratic in DNS informs providing accessibility of scholarly work to the public in a manner that is accessible and approachable (XXXX). Dialogic in DNS identifies activities directed toward the development of new knowledge, insights, and sensitivities of all participants (Burbules, XXXX). Open in DNS identifies the complimentary currents of open access and open data in scholarship processes (XXXX). Open data is the idea that some information should be freely available to everyone to use and re-publish as they wish without restrictions from copyright or other mechanisms of control (XXXX). Open access refers to the publishing and sharing of information that is distributed freely online and free of cost to other users (XXXX).

I, We, Networked Publics

This continuum in DNS between the intrapersonal and interpersonal should also be viewed as moving from the individual (I) to a collaborative activity (We), to connecting and extending openly with others (Networked Publics). Networked publics enable a specific type of community that signifies participation and engagement amongst a collective in digital spaces (boyd, 2010). As we understand the role of academics as public intellectuals, it is important to recognize that the term “public” can mean different things for different purposes and practices. As digital technologies become even more ubiquitous around the globe, there are multiple versions of public, or publics, as individuals identify, connect, communicate, and engage with others. In these spaces, networked publics are not just individuals grouped together, but “transformed by networked media, its properties, and its potential.” (boyd, 2010, p. 4) The interactions, needs, and concerns of these collectives are shaped and modified by the spaces and tools they use to congregate.

This distinction between the interpersonal of “We” and the larger context of Networked Publics is not a small distinction. An individual may consider themselves to employ digitally native scholarship practices if they use digital tools as a means to document, archive, and reflect on their areas of inquiry over time. A scholar may also utilize digitally native scholarship practices if they use digital, social tools to share and reflect with a small group of colleagues in a professional learning network (PLN). Moving to working with networked publics in open, digital spaces requires an extra appreciation for the risks, roles, and responsibilities that come with experimenting in current and future contexts. We will discuss these challenges and opportunities in greater detail in the remainder of this essay.

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