How have digital technologies changed research practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities?

Professor Eric T. Meyer (Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) discusses his book Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities with Lucie Burgess (Associate Director for Digital Libraries, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Dr Kathryn Eccles (Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) and Dr James Smithies (Director of King’s Digital Lab and Module Convenor for Internships in the Department of Digital Humanities, Kings College London).

About the book

In Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities, Eric Meyer and Ralph Schroeder argue that digital technologies have fundamentally changed research practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Meyer and Schroeder show that digital tools and data, used collectively and in distributed mode—which they term e-research—have transformed not just the consumption of knowledge but also the production of knowledge. Digital technologies for research are reshaping how knowledge advances in disciplines that range from physics to literary analysis.

Meyer and Schroeder map the rise of digital research and offer case studies from many fields, including biomedicine, social science uses of the Web, astronomy, and large-scale textual analysis in the humanities. They consider such topics as the challenges of sharing research data and of big data approaches, disciplinary differences and new forms of interdisciplinary collaboration, the shifting boundaries between researchers and their publics, and the ways that digital tools promote openness in science.

This book considers the transformations of research from a number of perspectives, drawing especially on the sociology of science and technology and social informatics. It shows that the use of digital tools and data is not just a technical issue; it affects research practices, collaboration models, publishing choices, and even the kinds of research and research questions scholars choose to pursue. Knowledge Machines examines the nature and implications of these transformations for scholarly research.

This talk is part of the TORCH Book at Lunchtime series. For more information please visit www.torch.ox.ac.uk.

About the speakers

  • Professor Ralph Schroeder

    Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • Professor Eric T. Meyer

    Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • Professor Chris Chambers

    Professor of cognitive neuroscience at the School of Psychology and Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre

    Chris Chambers is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the School of Psychology and Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre. In addition to his core research focus in human self control, his interests include open science practices, the role of science in the media, and mechanisms for promoting evidence-based public policy. He also co-hosts the Guardian psychology blog, Head Quarters.