Studying the Scholarly web: How disciplinary culture shapes online representations


The aim of this paper is to relate traces of the fundamental cultural characteristics of intellectual fields to representations of research activities on the scholarly web with a particular emphasis on qualitative hyperlink analysis. It will do this by asking whether Whitley’s (1984) theory of the intellectual and social organization of the sciences, popular within science and technology studies, can be operationalized in the context of the web. The data is gathered and analyzed based upon the notion of a websphere (Schneider and Foot, 2002) embedded within the wider web presence of two intellectual fields: corpus-based linguistics and argumentation theory. These two case studies share the same parent discipline of linguistics, however, the goals, cultural identity and web presence of the scholarly communities that inhabit them differ in many ways. The embedded webspheres were constructed based upon interview data, MicroSoft Site Analyst and search engine data. The findings show that the production of the web within corpus-based linguistics and argumentation theory has quite different and distinct characteristics. Within corpus-based linguistics we observe locally produced de-centralized webspheres, local in the sense that these pages and sites are organized on a project level, rather than at that of the field, and decentralized in that the organizing imperative of the websphere runs along the dimension of ‘functional dependence’ rather than ‘strategic dependence’. This means that there is less need to demonstrate the significance of the research problems, techniques or outcomes to the science system at large. In argumentation theory, on the other hand, production of the web is centralized at the field level, with pages and sites being organized on the basis of professional activities of research schools. The organizing imperative is centralized based along the dimension of ‘strategic dependence’, where agenda setting activities and reputation buildings strategies are prominent in the websphere. The findings also have consequences for the application of the websphere concept in the context of studying the scholarly web.

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@inproceedings{Fry2006StudyingTS, title={Studying the Scholarly web: How disciplinary culture shapes online representations}, author={Jenny Fry}, year={2006} }