It’s no secret that digital technologies and networks are becoming tremendously disruptive to academia by introducing new ways of doing research, publishing, teaching and collaborating with peers. But few universities have shown much gusto for tackling this very difficult topic, let alone trying to devise some working solutions. So USC deserves some credit for a serious and sophisticated one-day symposium on the topic in January 2011.
Hosted by the USC Office of Research and the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, the event convened a highly interdisciplinary set of participants – from engineering, social sciences, medical fields and the humanities. The ideas was to explore some of the innovative ways that academic research is now occurring and what university administrations should do in response. Among the questions posed at the symposium:
- How do you get credit toward tenure or promotion if your work as an academic is part of a vast online collaboration?
- How should peer review be done now that online platforms make it easy to invite talented outsiders from other disciplines, and even non-academics, to review work?
- With everyone staring into the computer screens, how should research institutions design real-world spaces so that people can actually have serendipitous in-person encounters and collaborations?
I served as rapporteur for that event, and now the final report has been published. You can download a pdf copy of Creativity & Collaboration: Technology and the Future of Research in the Academy here.