Friday, May 4, 2007

e-Science: Transformations in the Conduct of Scholarship

The current issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication includes several articles on the theme of "a revolutionary transformation of the scientific enterprise" involving the use of networks and high-speed computers for collaboration, data collection and analysis, archiving, electronic publishing, and other aspects of the scholarly and professional work.

No less than a revolutionary transformation of the scientific enterprise is claimed to be underway [says Blackwell, publisher of the journal]. A plethora of phrases have been coined to describe this transformation: e-Science, e-Social Science, e-Research, cyberscience, Internet-mediated research. Whatever the term, observers assert that the very essence of science is undergoing change, particularly through employment of electronic networks and high-speed computers. The everyday procedures and practices of traditional forms of science in which most scholars engage during their professional lives are being affected by features of e-Science. Although emphasis varies, most descriptions of e-Science involve the following aspects: internationally-oriented collaboration among researchers separated by distance and using high-speed computers and Internet-based tools for managing the research enterprise; for performing data collection, archiving and analysis; and for disseminating findings.

It is timely and appropriate to critically examine these developments from the perspective of the social sciences. This theme issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC) consists of reflective and empirical articles that examine the basic principles and features of e-Science and analyze early initiatives emerging from this new approach to scientific investigation.

Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Managing collaboration and communicating among researchers separated by distance
  • Developing and using Internet-based tools for data collection, analysis and visualization of findings
  • Archiving and providing access to data
  • Publishing results in an electronic environment

This issue is free on Blackwell Synergy.

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