Internationalize Your Research and Perspectives
Internationalize Your Research and Perspectives
The global information revolution really is global: online information is plentiful and diverse in other countries and languages, not just in the United States and in English. The databases, libraries and other online information resources we make, buy and use in American academia may be international in authorship and content, but are they also ethnocentric? Are we relying on them too much? What kinds of online information resources could we find elsewhere in the world in our disciplines, for our research, and for broadening our perspective on the questions and problems that interest us?
These are the questions we will take up in this short course, which will combine presentations from the instructor with class discussion and online work in a classroom with a desktop computer at every seat. You can use your NetId credentials to log into the computer at your seat. You are encouraged but not required to bring to this course, as your contribution or for us all to discuss, your own research, interests and knowledge of other languages and online information sources in other countries.
This workshop will have five meetings (3/21, 3/28, 4/4, 4/11, and 4/18).
This workshop will cover the following areas in 5 meetings on:
(1) Databases and other information resources for research common in American academia, like those available at library.tamu.edu for Texas A&M students. Their typology, diversity and limitations.
We may think of these databases and information resources as “global” or “universal,” but I will demonstrate some limitations that come from their being “national,” that is, produced in a particular country and language. For example, Academic Search Ultimate (from EBSCO Information Services) is a full-text database of over 12,000 journals in almost every academic discipline. If we search this database for literature about recent migration to Germany, we find hundreds of articles. Many are from the New York Times and the Economist, but not a single one is from Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine, which publishes far more articles online about migrants in Germany, some of them also in English.
(2) Databases and online libraries elsewhere in the world.
Example: we may not expect to find free and open access to scholarship and information in Russia, but the Russian electronic library of scholarship in all disciplines offers us 26 million articles and book chapters by over 800,000 authors in 1.6 million issues of over 60,000 journals and 3.3 million books, all with keywords in English. Almost 6,000 journals and 700,000 books and book chapters are in digital full-text, and we can download them as PDF files for free. Over 1.8 million registered users in 125 countries download 12 million full-text articles per year from elibrary.ru. Only 1,225 users are in the United States.
(3) Digital mass media in the world.
Example: National Public Radio in the United States can be a rich source for our scholarship, but the European Broadcasting Union at www.ebu.ch is a portal to 73 public radio and television companies in 56 countries! One of them, Czech Radio, offers us, from a country of just 10 million people, over 500,000 audio files of news, interviews, discussions, book reviews and lectures from the past two decades, all for free at www.rozhlas.cz. Other broadcasting unions cover other regions of the world, like the Caribbean Broadcasting Union at caribroadcastunion.org.
(4) Corporate bodies in the world and their Web sites.
Think of governments, international organizations, NGOs, universities, academies of sciences, professional and other associations around the world in your disciplines and interest areas. And that’s just a beginning.
(5) Social media.
Example: YouTube is an endless source of lectures by scholars on all kinds of subjects, as well as video recordings of entire academic conferences. You may think of TED Talks and its 2,611 videos in YouTube. But did you know a similar platform, PostNauka, is thriving in Russia, and has 2,629 videos in YouTube? What can we find in the rest of the world?
(6) Our individual linguistic repertoires.
What resources and practices can help us to develop our personal linguistic repertoires, so that we can better find and use online information in other languages? Even if we don’t have the time or motivation to “learn” another language that may be important in our research, we can at least learn to properly pronounce names, book titles and key words and ideas in it. We can do this easily with a text-to-speech engine like www.acapela-group.com, where we can choose a native speaker in 23 languages, write or paste in any text, and hear it spoken.
The instructor will present many examples, most often from Russia, Germany and the countries around them, because this is where he studies online information resources, and because he speaks Russian, German and Czech. But the purpose of these examples is to help us imagine online information resources elsewhere in the world and develop productive practices for finding and using them. This short course may be most useful for study and research in the social sciences, humanities and policy sciences. But it is open to discussion and extension to the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, public health, law and other areas. Students from all colleges, departments, programs, disciplines and interests are welcome: your knowledge and perspectives will help us think more broadly about the world and its information resources!