As we already mentioned, we are planning to use this blog space to trace our project progress and that will include documenting how our thinking evolves on the issues raised by the project call. At the moment, we are exploring possible approaches towards tackling the task of putting together a collection of social sciences research methods resources, this post reflects some of our ideas at the outset of the project.
In evaluating ongoing challenges to the growth and impact of the open educational resources (OER) movement, the problem of being able to find appropriate OER on the Internet remains a top concern. In the context of the collections project then, how do we of build solutions that actually work in the universe we live in – In other words, rather than ‘wishing’ that people would behave differently, how can we utilize solutions that function just fine given the way people actually behave?
Moreover, with web 2.0 we are also in a situation where it is not just the content creator who can potentially supply information that makes a resource more discoverable – think of the Amazon rating system. Where do we stand on folksonomies and how useful are bottom-up, user-based tagging systems for our project? What to do about the abundance of already existing resources in social science research methods? For instance, are there any parallels between what we are trying to accomplish and a rather timely debate within the field of scientific peer-reviewed publishing, with US-based academics arguing that “less is more” at least when it comes to high-quality research and issuing a plea to “stop the avalanche” of peer-reviewed research? In response to that plea, Neylon presents a counter-argument, suggesting that the fault does not lie with information overload or a failure to adequately filter the research, instead, he suggests to think in terms of a “discovery deficit”. He argues that:
We don’t need more filters or better filters in scholarly communications – we don’t need to block publication at all. Ever. What we need are tools for curation and annotation and re-integration of what is published. And a framework that enables discovery of the right thing at the right time. (…) A focus on enabling discovery can both deliver for researchers and provide business models that are more aligned with the way the web works.”
The discovery deficit could perhaps become a good working metaphor for the collections project and the central dilemma that we are trying to resolve.