Generosity and Academia

Although today’s theme at Building a Digital Portfolio was Project Planning & Grant Proposals, what I truly received was a lesson in the power of generosity.

Generosity in academia is a peculiar problem. Certainly, academics need to be conscientious of their intellectual property and protect it. But this does not preclude an attitude of scholarly friendship and openness.

Scholarly friendship can be enacted through providing access to the data that you collect for your own research. Today, Michele Greet visited and presented on the process of creating Transatlantic Encounters: Latin American Artists in Interwar Paris (http://chnm.gmu.edu/transatlanticencounters/). Her project is an example of generosity—it shares the data she meticulously collected. For me, the most notable remark she made was that the digital project, instead of hampering her ability to publish and present her research, has provided opportunities to write articles and lecture.

In the afternoon, we had free time to work on our projects. I have been collecting a very detailed list of works by the artist I am researching. In the midst of discussions about different platforms for project planning, I ended up on a website I use occasionally to find information on lesser-known objects—www.wga.hu. Staring at the site I realized how much I wanted an excel file of the data they collected. Much to my surprise, I found that they had provided an excel file of their data for download. What generosity!

Today was an affirmation that generosity is important in academia. Being fearful of opening your own data to others is unproductive. Instead, embracing sharing and generosity as the core underpinnings of your academic life aid in forming a rich and supportive scholarly community.

Source: Generosity and Academia

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