The exponential growth of information has been tracked for years now, the process of information generation and communication having been expedited by the web. It turns out that a sizable wave of this data tsunami is scholarly in nature and has use to other scholars around the world. The internet has increased the opportunity to easily communicate with others but doesn’t always lend itself to users discovering such communication simply due to its size. PressForward is aiming to change that. By collecting scholarly content that is not in the traditional peer-reviewed journal format, often referred to as “grey literature,” PressForward will screen and re-disseminate this content, providing centralized distribution.
PressForward is a grant funded project from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, which has offered other exciting, Open Source tools such as Omeka and Zotero. The aim is to debut new publications that will aggregate scholarly content from the open web while supporting and collaborating with online distributors of scholarly communication. While Institutional Repositories, like IDEALS, are often tasked with collecting this scholarly output, it may still be “trapped” within the institution that collects it because finding it can be a challenge. A service like PressForward has the potential to free this information from its home institution and share it with the world.
PressForward is also releasing its own content, reviewing both the process of aggregating content form the open web as well as resources that already provide this service. A few content aggregators which PressForward points to as successful models include The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Browser, PLOS Hubs, and Digital Humanities Now. Each of these sites uses different methods of aggregation and a range of editorial intervention and screening with different content area foci. Non-traditional publishing models are proliferating, requiring somebody or something to capture, preserve, and provide a centralized portal of access to this material. The PressForward initiative may provide just that.
Speaking of Omeka and Zotero, the Scholarly Commons supports training with both of these tools. Check out the Libguides for both Omeka and Zotero from the University of Illinois to learn more about them and see if they might prove useful throughout the course of your research.