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  • Discover, Gather, Create, Share - A Research Lifecycle View

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Discover, Gather, Create, Share - A Research Lifecycle View


This collection is a view of the research lifecycle that might appeal to "systems" oriented participants of Project Bamboo, such as computer scientists, information scientists, library systems people, and central IT people, among others.  It looks at the research process as a set of activities that center on the objects of research, namely research materials and products.  This can be one organizing principle for making sense of the large volume of information on the planning wiki, boiling it down into themes and primitives that can be further elaborated toward the goal of identifying and creating shared technology services.

This view is directly informed by the Minnesota study (A Multi-Dimensional Framework for Academic Support:  A Final Report, http://www.lib.umn.edu/about/mellon/UMN_Multi-dimensional_Framework_Final_Report.pdf., pages 35-42.  Minnesota faced a similar problem in analyzing the large amount of information gathered in their study, and found the work by John Unsworth on scholarly primitives to be valuable in that study.  Quoting liberally from this report:

V. Primitives---Tools of Analysis, Ways of Thinking

In analyzing themes from the project's data we found John Unsworth's concept of scholarly primitives useful to structure our analysis and frame possible future directions. Unsworth defines primitives as "basic functions common to scholarly activity across disciplines, over time, and independent of theoretical orientation." "Discover," "Gather," "Create," and "Share" emerged as the most helpful categories that allowed us to understand the data not from the point of view of our research themes (general research, library research, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, resource organization and storage) but instead from the reported activities in which scholars were regularly and consistently engaged. These four primitives best described the range of activities undertaken by scholars throughout the research process. Other possible primitives (annotate, compare, refer, present, etc.) seemed to fit well within our four primary categories. "Discover," "Gather," "Create," and "Share" also represent stages of the research process, but are not always discrete steps in practice. Most researchers engage in multiple research phases and activities at once, as the research process is not necessarily linear. Rather, it is an iterative and multidimensional process that involves as much back-tracking as forward movement towards completed scholarship. And then there are the many scholars who say that scholarship is never finished, as it is always subject to revision, re-thinking, expansion, and more research. The use of primitives allowed us to reflect on the necessary interrelatedness of stages in the research process.

[John Unsworth. "Scholarly Primitives: What Methods Do Humanities Researchers Have in Common and How Might Our Tools Reflect This?" "Humanities Computing, Formal Methods, Experimental Practice" Symposium, Kings College, London, May 13, 2000. http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/Kings.5-00/primitives.html]

Activities relating to "discover" include all kinds of searching, whether serendipitous or structured, that lead to finding and identifying resources, materials, and forms of assistance relevant to scholarship. Discovery has as much to do with locating institutes, offices, and services (grant and fellowship offices, libraries and special collections, or laboratories) on campus as with identifying libraries and archives nationwide or abroad. Discovery encompasses the full range or bibliographic searches for scholarly projects, as well as efforts to keep up with a scholarly field or fields. The importance of interdisciplinary scholarship requires new methods of keeping current, as many researchers are challenged by the variety of protocols for searching digital indexes and databases outside of their core disciplines. Archival research also presents challenges to discovery, as many archival institutions -- foreign or domestic, public or private -- do not fully represent their holdings in online catalogs, or do not conform to standards that allow easy discovery and access. At the same time, the growth of digital archives demands new methods for successful discovery and use.

"Gather" distinguishes searching activities from the acquisition and organization of resources, no matter how diverse. Given the wide array of material used by scholars in a single project or over the course of a career, these materials range from books and articles, electronic resources, film, sound recordings, artifacts, data sets, ephemera, maps, and more. Processes of acquiring research materials physically or electronically, and storing them physically or electronically (or both) lead many researchers to question their own methods and best practices. The idiosyncratic character of organizational strategies and systems (even for a single researcher), and the proliferating media that researchers deal with on a regular basis, create what researchers consider a "breaking point": their offices (at home and on campus), shelves, storage closets, basements, hard drives, and floppy discs, zip drives, and CDs are all full, disorganized, and messy.

"Create" refers to the kinds of activities scholars undertake once they have identified and acquired resources for their research: analyzing and synthesizing materials, information, and ideas; annotating research materials; writing; working collaboratively; preparing grant applications and teaching materials; and reviewing and rating resources for scholarly use.

Behaviors attendant to "Share" include all aspects of dissemination: participating in conferences and scholarly meetings; publishing; teaching; sharing data, ideas, resources, drafts, and completed works. Issues of intellectual property and copyright are especially important, as well as all activities scholars undertake while preparing reports, theses, presentations and manuscripts: identifying high impact journals, conferences, and publishers, and all the protocols and procedures for successfully disseminating one's work.

On page 47 of the Minnesota report is a graphic illustrating the four primitives and some associated research behaviors or activities, which sheds more light on this collection.  "Discover" includes the behaviors of Serendipitous Finding, Collaborative Finding, Structured Finding, and Keeping Current.  "Gather" includes Collecting, Acquiring, and Organizing. "Create" includes Annotating, Analyzing, Describing, Reviewing & Rating, and Writing.  "Share" includes Rights, Data Sharing, Teaching, and Publishing.  These associations help in constructing the links to themes below.  The graphic also illustrates the overlapping nature of these four primitives, as behaviors or activities can clearly be associated with multiple primitives.  (For example, one can think of some forms of Annotating as part of Organizing and therefore as part of "Gather.")




Proposed/originated by:

Jim Muehlenberg

Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

Current custodian(s)



Who is welcome to contribute to this collection: anyone

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Links to Themes


Link to Theme Page

Comments (why this theme in this collection)

Jim Muehlenberg


"Analyzing" is part of "Create" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg


"Annotating" is part of "Create" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg


"Archiving" is related to "Storing" which is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Forage (includes Discover)

"Forage" and "Discover" are parts of "Discover" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Gather (includes Create, Capture, Transform)

"Gather" is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg


"Manipulate" is part of "Create" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Organizing Information

"Organizing" is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Preserve objects of scholarly interest

"Preserving" is related to "Storing" which is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Share (includes Present, Publish, Perform)

"Share" is part of "Share" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg


"Storing" is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study

Jim Muehlenberg

Utilize a variety of research materials

"A wide array of material" is part of "Gather" in Minnesota's study, but actually applies to all four primitives

How this collection relates to Project Bamboo's future direction


Relation to PB Future Direction



Links related to this collection





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  1. Unknown User (cjkainz@uchicago.edu)

    Clearly, the data we gathered in Workshop One reinforces he four major categories (Discover, Gather, Create, Share), but I wonder if they are too broad for defining technical services. I wonder if there's a way to break this down a bit by decomposing the intersections of these areas (the overlaps in the diagram on page 38 of http://www.lib.umn.edu/about/mellon/UMN_Multi-dimensional_Framework_Final_Report.pdf)?

    1. Unknown User (achapin)

      I think you're right, Chad.  In terms of the Minnesota study, it seems like the best place to search for the basis of technology services are those activities once removed from the four major categories, activities such as the different types of finding, collecting, acquiring, data sharing, writing, reviewing and rating (p. 47, A Multi-Dimensional Framework for Academic Support: A Final Report).  Clearly, digital technologies, particularly information networks, have redefined what it means to "publish."  A lot of scholarly output can be shared soon after it is created suggesting that the technology services for the "Create" and "Share" primitives are essentially the same.  That said, the activity of sharing in a "information network" such as the internet offers more and less control over the extent to which content is shared.  Thus technology that supports creating and sharing needs to include services related to authentication, authorization and metadata and repository management. 

      Similarly, the technology services related to "Discover" and "Gather" primitives are collapsing into a single set of services.  For example social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and browser extensions such as Zotero allow scholars to gather as soon as they discover and to use what they and those like them have gathered as the basis for new discoveries.  Technology services important for these activities include aggregation, syndication, evaluation and organization.