I’m at the EDEN research workshop in Barcelona at the moment, where I’m giving a keynote (on VLEs you won’t be surprised to hear). In the sessions so far the issue of quality has come up a lot. Without intending to I have rather found myself cast in the role of sceptic for the formal, hierarchical models such as benchmarking and advocate for a more bottom-up web 2.0 approach.
In this world quality is measured by a number of emergent metrics – for example the popularity of a resource, the number of times it is referenced or quoted, the number of times it is linked to, and for dynamic resources (e.g. blogs) the number of repeat visitors. These will be quite different from the formal benchmarks of quality and esteem indicators that are predetermined in academia.
Put simply – are blogs, wikis, etc as valuable resources as formal articles that have been through the rigorous academic process? My feeling is that if they meet the need then yes. There seems to be some resistance, snobbery, even towards these types of resources. I think this is partly rooted in defence, a kind of job preservation – many academics want to be the holders of content and feel threatened by this more open approach, and thus wave the quality flag to try and hold back the development.