Date: Sun, 29 Jun 1997 09:56:06 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: research profiles?
This is a sociological question for those Humanists who are professionally
engaged in other fields than humanities computing. It is motivated by a
desire to understand how research in these fields tends to relate to
professional activity, esp. the very public kind like giving papers at
conferences. I expect that if we had the data to hand, the answer would vary
from discipline to discipline.
What I am wondering is this: does the real research of a discipline tend to
be done by those who are also most active in this public way, or does
maintaining a professional presence militate against research?
One reason for asking the question relates to the effect of electronic
communications and publishing on how research is conducted in a field. I
have noticed in my own work and that of my colleagues a tendency for the
pace of the new medium to push how we do humanities research in the
direction of how the sociologists work. If I understand the latter, it may
be characterised by frequent publication of relatively limited results,
rather than the infrequent publication of a more extensive kind
characteristic of the humanities. One perhaps transitional phenomenon (if in
fact we are in a transition) is the tendency of humanists thoroughly engaged
with the technology (if this is in fact the case) to publish more frequently
than perhaps they should about long-term research.
Sorry to be so tentative and anecdotal, but this really is an interrogative
note meant to be questioned in every particular. Are we humanists undergoing
an intellectual and professional metamorphosis? If so, what do we think
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Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801