When I was younger…

I walked 10 miles, uphill, in the snow, to get to the library.  This is an exaggeration of course…

Ten years passed between the completion of my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and my current pursuit of a PhD in Social Work.   While writing the never-ending number of papers during my MSW program, I was able to access many of the journal articles I needed through the on-line library system. However, there were a number of occasions when an article was not available on-line and I would have to drive 30 minutes to the university library, pull the journal off of a bookshelf, and copy an article to read later, in order to finish my paper.   Ten years later and back on the academic scene, things are different.   I have most definitely appreciated having unlimited electronic access, to any and all journal articles I have needed, from the comfort of my home. Before this week, my understanding and thoughts on “open access” was that I had heard the term and in my mind, pictured it as some “hippiesque” type of phenomenon within the academic world.

In preparation for this post, I came across an excellent and relevant TED talk, “Where do good ideas come from” with Steven Johnson. Thank you to TED organization for granting open access to view powerful and engaging speakers across the globe. I personally have gained a wealth of insight and knowledge on a variety of topics. True statement: I watch more TED talks than I watch television shows or movies. In Steven Johnson’s talk on how ideas are generated and emerge, it all comes down to conversations in public spaces. Starbucks anyone?


Creativity and innovation do not happen in isolation. Steven Johnson states, “But I think there’s a case to be made that we should spend at least as much time, if not more, valuing the premise of connecting ideas and not just protecting them.”
The relationship between community-engaged scholarship and open scholarship are more than second cousins, they are siblings, existing together in the immediate family. Therefore, like any great sibling relationship there is the potential for sibling rivalry. Both take place in the community and for the community. Things are not always equal for siblings in a family, so one sibling (open scholarship) reaps the benefit of studying abroad while existing in a global community. While viewing Jesse Strommel’s talk, I reflected on some overlaps such as both allowing for “individuals to develop their intellect in conversation” in a public space and both inform outreach, community building, and advocacy.

Open scholarship impacts and informs research allowing the public to share ideas, comments, critiques, and insights. I feel this one of the greatest benefits, as well as what excites me about it.   The exchanging of research ideas from a Starbucks in Tampa, Florida with other individuals in a Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, extends across the boundaries of communities, potentially uniting two or more communities, and has a lasting impact.  Maybe a domino effect of change!

For me personally, open scholarship carries a feeling of vulnerability and a shift from the traditional academic engagement of writing assignments being written for and read by only the professor of the course, to exposure with a much larger audience…of strangers!

We take ideas from other people, from-2


This post is a part of my ongoing participation in Collaborative Curiosity – an online course in community-engaged research sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University. The course is FREE and open to anyone. You can join us on Twitter with #CuriousCoLab. You can follow me on Twitter @BreunBelcherSW

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