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Thursday, November 3 • 11:10am - 11:35am
Open, but not for criticism

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It is postulated there would be "little scientific advance" without individuals who are open-minded to assimilating new discoveries whilst discarding their prior beliefs and practices (Kuhn 1970). Underpinning the advancement of any subject is the ability of the individual to think and reflect critically, and as part of a self-regulating research community, we engage in the critical appraisal of the work of others in return for feedback on our own endeavors. This is not without difficulty and it is recognized we rarely negatively cite the work of others (Ball 2015), or publish negative results (Peplow 2014).

We are further subject to critical debate which would be confined to traditional academic activities such as question sessions at conferences or 'letters to editor' exchanges. Today, as traditional methods converge with our digital working environments, our activities become painted with emotional and social pressures, and the term critical "Öengagement' better describes our experience (Wohlwend & Lewis 2011).

This paper explores the nature of critical engagement of research communities within their digital spaces. A literature review will be conduced using a systematic approach to identifying research articles within a defined area of open education. A range of peer-reviewed and other scholarly articles such as blog posts will be used to assess the nature of the critical debate. The articles will be examined to identify the locations of where social interactions take place, e.g. blog comments, letters to editors? A further detailed analysis will explore the nature of research practices themselves, from the quality of methodology, biases within data published and cited, and self-awareness of the limitations and reproducibility of the studies by the author. A framework will be drawn up based on the meta-research approaches derived from Ioannidis et al (2015).

This paper will provide insight into critical engagement within the open education research community. This work will provide us with insight into our working practices that might call for us to open our minds to more critical debate.


Ball, P. (2015). Science papers rarely cited in negative ways. Nature News.

Ioannidis, J. P., Fanelli, D., Dunne, D. D., & Goodman, S. N. (2015). Meta-research: evaluation and improvement of research methods and practices. PLoS Biol, 13(10), e1002264.

Kuhn, T. (1970). Scientific Revolutions (2nd. ed., Enlarged), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Peplow, M. (2014). Social sciences suffer from severe publication bias. Nature, August.

Wohlwend, K., & Lewis, C. (2011). Critical literacy, critical engagement, digital technology: Convergence and embodiment in glocal spheres. In D. Lapp, & D. Fisher (Eds.), The handbook on teaching English and Language Arts. (3rd ed.). New York: Taylor & Francis.

avatar for Vivien Rolfe

Vivien Rolfe

Lecturer, University of the West of England
Sharing open educational resources to support life sciences education. Like to animate physiological processes. Saxophoning. Dog walking. Jellied Eels.

Thursday November 3, 2016 11:10am - 11:35am EDT