A Conclusion (for now)

Scholarship as it is understood traditionally is defined, recognized, and valued based on a familiar set of conventions that govern written academic discourse. These conventions are guidelines for what constitutes a scholarly contribution most significantly in terms of content and form. Online texts, particularly web-based texts that use the unique technological allowances of the medium, are new kinds of texts that both follow and flaunt traditional conventions of print-based scholarship. A better understanding of the ways in which these texts achieve traditional scholarly goals—and imply new goals that emerge in this unique genre of online scholarship—can be achieved through close analysis.

The assessment tool developed in this study was designed for the purpose of closely analyzing texts published in a scholarly online journal. The tool, on its own, can provide a fair description of online scholarship. However, it works more fully as part of a broader research project that explores the nature of online texts toward their acceptance as legitimate scholarship for the purposes of professional advancement.

A complete analysis of various Kairos webtexts and a synthesis of content and form characteristics will lead to tentative conclusions regarding the nature of web-based writing within a reputable and representative online journal. Findings from this preliminary assessment tool will also reveal the tool’s own strengths and shortcomings and will guide the development of a rubric that tenure, promotion, and review (TPR) committees, as well as other invested groups (scholars, journal editors, and reviewers), can use for understanding and evaluating the scholarly nature of texts written and presented in and for the online medium. This research is a necessary first step for evaluating contemporary web-based scholarship in TPR settings. Additionally, it may provide a basis for understanding the emergent new media online texts that begin to make meaning in increasingly innovative ways.