The skill of writing is a form of craft that writers use to captivate their readers by using intriguing inscribed words in several methods to convey their ideas. The invention of technologies has shaken the world. As the world gets digitalised, surrounding everyday lives in technology-rich environments, writers have moved from using paper and pens to digital devices, such as laptop, to jot down their inspirations and researches. However, considering as print sales and distribution of printed publications tumble while increasingly more are moving towards online publications to cut cost, the changes in print journalism could either be astounding or disastrous.
The term scholarship is relatively outdated, linking the term to the notion of a studious individual. However, it is a general term that includes various purposes and the flexibility to incorporate countless form of practice. Thus, an academic writer, or scholar, as defined by Weller (2011), is a “learned person or a specialist in a given branch of knowledge”, who is typically thought to be hired by universities (p. 4). However, as we come more technologically savvy, scholars are substituting printed publication for a digital one; hence, deeming them now as ‘digital’ scholars, where Goodfellow (2011) defined ‘digital’ in education as the integration of its actions with the latest information and communications media. Thus, assimilating the new changes into traditional practice, presenting the struggle between extensive change in practice, and traditional and slight modifications to standard methods.
With the assimilation of new changes into traditional practice, this allows digital scholarship to enable the expansion of networks, unlocking a whole new world, where people are more recognised by their online network and reputable identity. Therefore, a highly regarded digital scholar may possible have no institutional affiliation. Weller (2011) further elaborated that the online space widens the term ‘scholarship’ to accept a broader group, allowing an individual who utilises “digital, networked and open approaches to demonstrate specialism in a field is probably sufficient to progress” (p. 4). As a result, this creates an issue with academic and professional writers as any individual can be writer.
There is a shift in academic writing in the digital age. Thanks to digitalisation, there is no standard length for articles and academic journals to follow. Traditionally, a journal article is of a specific length while its publication cycle is controlled by the finances of printing. However, once digitalised, numerous existing limitations were removed, allowing the length of the journal article to vary accordingly and published when ready. Now, writers have a significantly large array of substitutions. Additionally, the digitalised world has opened a platform for writers to share their knowledge and works. Weller (2011) mentioned that formerly academic knowledge was limited to libraries or courses and may have difficulties retrieving and accessing required information. With the removal of such limitations and making information obtainable online by becoming a mouse click or a search term away. This is supported by Mutula (2011) who states that readers can retrieve information from digital scholarship 24/7 through the intranets, internet and other up-and-coming networks. This is due to the aid of advanced search engines and digitised library.
As stated in Hey and Trefethen’s study (as cited in Borgman, 2015), the phrase “data deluge” is to develop an innovative information foundation for research and learning. Simultaneously, the convenience of fast networks and advanced devices in retrieving information attracts writers to use them.
With proper care, printed publications, such as books and journal articles, can last for many years in libraries whereas digital information has a smaller lifespan. Writers must take note that these data must be transferred to new versions of technology regularly, otherwise, it is inaccessible. Data deluge impacts scholarship and learning. Borgman (2015) continues to state that writers can submit their paper to sources organised by the publishing company, including submitting them on online. However, this would result in several copies of same journal articles exist online simultaneously. Though, at times they are similar or different, causing confusion to the readers and the scholarly record.
However, there is a considerable amount of online information is exceptionally important to writers. Writers can circulate their work more extensively through the internet, although readers are accountable for assessing trust and authenticity.
‘Literacy’, as stated by Goodfellow (2011), is identical to ‘competency’ or ‘ability’ in everyday situations. Traditionally, literacy has been linked to the development of reading and writing. Due to contrary belief about literacy as an individual trait that bestows social ‘normality’ on the individual, therefore, also, presenting ‘digital literacy’ as a necessity for survival in the digital age.
However, schools are in a predicament as they struggle to balance good and bad influences of internet access by means of limiting students use of technology. Digital literacies tend to state the abilities of particularized learners. Digital literacy tends to struggle to balance between the notion of ‘education’ and ‘creativity’. Hence, moving away from a traditional pedagogy on academic writing.
As mentioned in Beetham, McGill, and Littlejohn’s study (as cited in Goodfellow, 2011), the development of academic literacies is classified and emphasise the bond between writers and knowledge of society to face on the challenges of digital literacies. This means stressing the critical nature of these practices, but the relationship between critique and socially constructed knowledge is fundamentally constructed through writing.
Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement
As humans, we are tempted to lighten our workload, by utilising the work of others with acknowledging them, particularly today, where we can access journal articles with ease. Thus, it is essential to provide credits to the original writer’s work. This is one of the problem writers faced in the digitalised era. The lack of acknowledgement is considered stealing and challenges the reliability of writer’s works. As cited in Murray (2008), Cohen discusses the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement, where plagiarism is linked to ethics, while copyright is associated with the law. Intentionally or unintentionally, plagiarism is serious and if caught, it would be a disciplinary offence that may lead students to be expelled. However, plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same. It is important to distinguish the two as they may seem similar that it is unrecognisable that plagiarism is to use words or ideas without crediting to the writers, but copyright infringement is to use words or ideas without consent. (1058)
The role of writing has changed significantly as we persist to cement ourselves in this digital era.