Syracuse opinion differs on advantages of humanities site
In the global marathon toward easy information connection, a new scholar forum for humanities research is making strides online.
Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has superseded archaic browsing research methods and created an online forum that allows scholars to browse areas such as economics, management and political science.
Recently, SSRN added the online Humanities Research Network forum, giving humanities scholars the opportunity to publish and print papers about classic works, English and American literature and philosophy.
SSRN President and CEO Gregg Gordon said he believes the network has an element of efficiency because the network enables scholars to obtain papers and journals more easily than they would be able to in print.
The network was developed, he said, to provide a way for people to receive information sooner. ‘The sharing of new ideas allows other people to develop ideas,’ Gordon said.
Gordon also stressed that the structure of an online network makes a ‘cross- pollination’ of ideas possible. He called the network ‘an interdisciplinary approach’ that exposes scholars to more ideas.
SU English associate professor Erin Mackie finds the online humanities network controversial. While a professor at University of Canterbury in New Zealand, she said she saw contradicting actions regarding the network.
‘Outside of the New Zealand context, this could be useful,’ Mackie said. However, she said she finds the network to be ‘superfluous’ overall because academic departments already have networks.
Associate professor of English Silvio A. Torres-Saillant sees the online humanities network as promising.
It is normally difficult to keep up with what goes on in humanities, he said, which means SSRN can be a ‘resource that brings ideas together in a user-friendly manner, which is valuable.
‘It helps us get over the shyness of not sharing our work,’ Torres-Saillant said. ‘(It also) encourages conversation about ideas while they are forming.’
But individuals should not be discouraged if they cannot find something on the network, Torres-Saillant said.
Neither Mackie nor Torres-Saillant has used the network yet.
‘I still do not find it natural to publish something online,’ Torres-Saillant said.
The online humanities network continues to expand and has networks that will incorporate forums in linguistics, religious studies and anthropology. And, the network will continue to enable scholars to read about perspectives different from their own so they can keep exploring new ideas.
‘By getting a different perspective, you get a broader range of ideas,’ Gordon, SSRN president, said.
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