Open Knowledge?
Potentials of Digital Publishing in the Academic World

Closing Conference of the
working group “Potentials of Digital Media in the Academic World”
of the Global Young Faculty III

Monday, April 27, 2015, 13:00-20:00

University of Duisburg-Essen, Glaspavillon at Campus Essen,
Universitätsstr. 12, 45141 Essen

The „Open Knowledge?” Conference could be followed via a livestream and the Twitter hashtag  #gyf3ok. The videos of the presentations are available for download, comments and discussion on the weblog of the Global Young Faculty and its video-channel.

The conference was organized by the working group “Potentials of Digital Media in the Academic World”, which is part of the Global Young Faculty III. The Global Young Faculty provides a platform for outstanding and dedicated young scholars from the Ruhr region to meet, to work on interdisciplinary projects and to receive new stimuli for their own academic research. The interdisciplinary working group has concentrated on the potentials of digital learning and digital publishing in the academic world during the last 18 months in an intensive way. Several findings of its group projects were presented during the conference.
Conference concept and press contact: Dr. Thomas Ernst as representative of the working group “Potentials of Digital Media in the Academic World”: thomas.ernst [at]


Digital media enable new ways and dimensions of production, distribution and reception of knowledge. This media change also offers great potential for the academic world: scholars can take advantage of an expansive range of knowledge more easily, collaborative work is facilitated, outcomes can be published and discussed much faster and teaching is provided with new formats for a broad perception. However, scholars regularly encounter structural, juridical, economic and many other problems when making use of the potentials of digital media.

The conference “Open Knowledge? Potentials of Digital Publishing in the Academic World“ aimed to strengthen the interdisciplinary awareness and reflection of the potentials of digital media in many ways. Firstly, it explored the way digital media are being used by students and young scholars and how the digital universities of the future will work. It also outlined the impact of these changes on the public sphere and the social position of academia.

Secondly, it focussed on the potentials of digital publishing and the free distribution of digital knowledge: Fast and broad digital availability of academic papers and monographs as well as the possibility for a global community to comment and discuss them openly allows a more intensive, more transparent, more collaborative and, consequently, a more academic way of verifying knowledge. Prof. Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick (New York City/@kfitz), who is one of the leading theorists and practitioners of academic digital publishing, gave the central keynote on these topics.

The final presentations reflected on more practical questions: What are the standards of a good digital academic publication? Are academic libraries an agent of these changes? Can scholars make their texts digitally accessible? And how do students and laypersons make sense of online information?


Conference report by Katharina Lührmann on (German)

Conference report by Katharina Graef on (German)

Conference clip by Katharina Lührmann and Lisa-Marie Reingruber


Open Knowledge in Digital Universities. Opening of the Conference and Overviews


Dr. Dagmar Eberle
(Mercator Research Center Ruhr, Deputy Director)
Welcoming Speech

Dr. Thomas Ernst/Prof. Dr. Eva Wilden
(Global Young Faculty III/Working Group “Potentials of Digital Media in the Academic World”)
Open Knowledge and Digital Publishing in the Academic World. A Short Introduction

JPG_Eva_Wilden_Portrait-001Prof. Dr. Eva Wilden
(University of Vechta, Global Young Faculty III)

Dr. Eva Wilden is Professor of Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language at the University of Vechta/Germany. She has also worked as History and Foreign Language teacher at various secondary schools in Germany and England. Her current research focusses on the benefits of mobile media in foreign language education, teaching and learning foreign languages in the primary classroom as well as the professional developement of foreign language teachers.

markusneuschaeferDr. Markus Neuschäfer
(Open Knowledge Foundation, Berlin; Project Leader “Digital Humanities and Open Science”)
Rewiring the Ivory Tower: The Evolution of Digital Universities and Open Science

The evolution of Digital Universities and Open Science is driven by several factors. The high connectivity of the digital age has made it easier than ever before to work collaboratively and share research with a global audience. In a knowledge society, the demand for well-grounded information is rising, as it fosters cultural participation, economic prosperity and social mobility. But not every method of dissemination is equally successful or sustainable. Sharing PDF files online is not enough: Community building, the adoption of digital skills and the development of new filters for online publications have become a vital part of open science. With open data and an evolving set of digital tools, researchers can connect to a wider pool of inspiration. The talk will highlight current trends in Open Science, introducing methods and platforms to participate in its growth.

Dr. Markus Neuschäfer develops the cooperation with the research infrastructure DARIAH-DE in the areas of Digital Humanities and Open Science. He is committed to advance the potential of Open Data and is especially interested in promoting visibility with open access. Before his current role at Open Knowledge Foundation, he worked as a research associate at the University of Goettingen and as a Business Development Manager in a publishing startup.

[14:10-14:30 Coffee break]

Potentials of Digital Publishing in the Academic World. Keynote Presentations

Kathleen_Fitzpatrick_PortraitProf. Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick
(Visiting Research Professor of English at New York University/
Director of Scholarly Communication at the Moderne Language Association)
Planned Obsolence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy

It is clear that the future of scholarly communication lies online, but the parameters of that future nonetheless remain murky. Moreover, the most significant obstacles to building that future are less technological in nature than they are social and institutional. How must institutions of higher education and the scholars that work within them change their ways of thinking in order for new modes of digital communication to present viable alternatives to traditional publications? This talk will look at a few recent experiments in digital scholarship as a means of exploring some of the changes in thinking they require and their implications for the lives of scholars and their work within universities.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association and Visiting Research Professor of English at NYU. She is author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (NYU Press, 2011) and of The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). She is co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, where she has led a number of experiments in open peer review and other innovations in scholarly publishing.

[16:00-16:30 Coffee break]

Thomas_Sta¦êcker_PortraitDr. Thomas Stäcker
(Vice-chairman of the executive board of Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum/Deputy Director of Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel)
The Future of Digital Publishing in the Academia: Is the Library an Agent of Change?

Digital academic publishing is undergoing substantial changes. The internet does not only offer an easy-to-use access for everybody, it also provides possibilities to publish documents and texts for free on the web, and this without much effort. This is particularly relevant for non-profit academic publications and scholars who are much more concerned with issues of dissemination and reputation than revenues. Furthermore, digital texts have much more to offer than their analogue counterparts. They can be searched via the web, enriched by image, sound and 3D material, used by digital humanities tools or interrelated by semantic web techniques. In view of these changing opportunities, traditional publication workflows seem to become increasingly obsolete. Yet, there still are a couple of challenges a scholar encounters when planning to publish digitally. First of all, there needs to be an institution that takes on responsibility for documents and data, that will collect and preserve digital publications and that ensures high academic standards and support for the new possibilities of digital publishing. The paper raises the question, whether the academic or research library is such an institution and if so, how it can contribute to and participate in this new publication process?

Dr. Thomas Stäcker is deputy director of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel and responsible for reader services, cataloguing and acquisition, reproduction services and digitization projects of the Wolfenbuettel Digital Library. He studied the history of philosophy, German literature and Latin philology at the Universities of Braunschweig, Essex (England) and Osnabrück. He did his Ph.D. in philosophy about the meaning of the concept of theurgy in the Neoplatonist, Jamblich of Chalcis. He is editor of the journal ‘Wolfenbütteler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte’. His research interests are digital humanities, digitization of cultural heritage material, digital editions of early modern imprints, bibliography, library and book history.

Potentials and Limitations of Digital Academic Publishing: Projects of the Global Young Faculty III


Thomas_Ernst_PortraitDr. Thomas Ernst
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Global Young Faculty III)
Are Young Scholars Allowed to Make their Texts Digitally Accessible?
Open Access, Open Reviews and the German ‘Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht’

To make full use of the potentials of digital publishing in the academic world, it is necessary to make academic publications as accessible as possible. But scholars are struggling in their attempts to implement such new ways of publishing since they are still confronted with paper-based, author-fixed and closed publishing cultures, and the publishing industries strongly defend their business models.
Against this backdrop, the presentation will discuss several findings of a project by the Global Young Faculty’s working group “Potentials of Digital Media in the Academic World” which asked the following questions: How can scholars make their texts digitally accessible? How should a scholar licence his/her open access publications? How should scholars deal with standard contracts submitted by publishing companies? What happens if a scholar tries to regain the right to republish his/her paper digitally and for free? Does the German ‘Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht’ help scholars in making their publications digitally accessible at all?

Dr. phil. Thomas Ernst is Assistant Professor of Literary and Media Studies in the German Department at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He is an expert on literary and media theory and has published widely on literature in German and Dutch and the transition of literature through new media (film, TV, digital media, social media). He is the author of Popliteratur (2001/2005) and Literatur und Subversion. Politisches Schreiben in der Gegenwart (2013/2015), and his edited volumes include SUBversionen. Zum Verhältnis von Politik und Ästhetik in der Gegenwart (2008) and Verortungen der Interkulturalität (2011).

Stephan_Winter_PortraitDr. Stephan Winter
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Global Young Faculty III)
Understanding Science in the Information Tide:
How Students and Laypersons Make Sense of Online Information

The Internet has become an increasingly important source of science information for laypersons. Users have access to a virtually unlimited array of documents by diverse sources, which offers enhanced opportunities of relevant information acquisition but also leads to new challenges: First, not all documents adequately represent the scientific state of the art. Second, not all readers have the skills to understand complex scientific information. Particularly in the domain of current scientific debates, for instance on the effects of emerging technologies, the state of research is characterized by complex patterns of conflicting empirical evidence, which may be difficult to understand for laypersons. Against this background, the talk deals with the question of how laypersons select and process science articles (varying in message complexity and source descriptions) in new media environments such as science blogs. Results of psychological experiments indicate that laypersons for whom a topic is relevant are relatively open-minded toward two-sided (more complex) messages on conflicting evidence – however, people with naive beliefs on the nature of science and lower need for cognition tend to process balanced information in a biased way. The presentation will present empirical findings and will discuss theoretical and practical implications for the use of online science information among students and the general public.

Stephan Winter, PhD, is a research associate in the department of social psychology – media and communication at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. His work focuses on credibility and information selection as well as on processes of attitude formation and expression in new media environments, particularly in the domains of science communication and online journalism.

[18:10-18:30 Coffee break]

The Potentials of Digital Publishing in the Academic World: Concluding Panel Discussion

• Prof. Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Modern Language Association/New York University)
• Dr. Markus Neuschäfer (Open Knowledge Foundation, Berlin)
• Dr. Thomas Stäcker (DHd/Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel)
• and members of the Global Young Faculty III

[19:30 Conference reception]


Download the program as PDF.

Download the conference poster as PDF.