Accepted Paper:

Working in virtual space: how to study biodiversity research on the Web  


Daphne Duin (VU-University Amsterdam)
Peter van den Besselaar

Paper short abstract:

We study the effects of moving biodiversity research to the Web. We used the rich body of theories on organizational dimensions of knowledge creation, which suggests the online environment creates enabling conditions for knowledge production and innovation. Moreover, we argue that Social Network Analysis offer great means to study online and offline work environments of researchers. We will demonstrate our argument with help of a case study on one specific web-based platform in the field called Scratchpads.

Paper long abstract:

In the field of taxonomy (hereafter biodiversity research) numerous Web based tools are available. The tools facilitate knowledge creation within the global expert community of biodiversity researchers and bioinformaticians. With the tools users can create content, share data and have access to knowledge that was once only available to individual researchers, whether in paper achieves, on stand-alone computers or in difficult to access data systems of their institutions. Up to now more than 3000 users registered for the web-based platform called Scratchpads and their number is steadily growing. Hence, biodiversity research is moving its work space to the Web. In the context of this trend we are interested to know what the effects are in terms of access to social capital for science. Does web-based science provide access to different assets (e.g. skills and knowledge) than offline research settings? We applied theories on Communities of Practice and Social Network Analysis as a method to online research communities using Scratchpads as a case. Furthermore, benefits and cautionary notes of using Web data for social research will be discussed.

Panel W023
Shadows and lights on global biodiversity: taxonomy's revival (EN)