Keynote Hans Jochen Scholl: Profiling the Academic Domain of Digital Democracy and Government #cedem16

Hans Jochen Scholl, full Professor in University of Washington’s Information School (US), held his keynote “Profiling the Academic Domain of Digital Democracy and Government” at the CeDEM16.

Jochen_portrait_2015Hans Jochen Scholl
Hans Jochen Scholl is a Full Professor with tenure in the University of Washington’s Information School (Seattle, WA). In his public sector-related research Dr. Scholl’s special interests include smart governance, disaster sciences, interoperability, and information artifact evaluation in government. He served as President of the Digital Government Society from 2010 to 2011 and serves as Chair of the IFIP Working Group 8.5 (Information Systems in Public Administration). Dr. Scholl chairs the Electronic Government Track at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) and co-organizes the European IFIP EGOV conferences. He also supervises the maintenance of the Electronic Government Reference Library (EGRL), which is chartered to identify and include all peer-reviewed English-language publications on electronic government worldwide.

CeDEM – the international Conference for e-Democracy and Open Government – brings together e-democracy, e-participation and open government specialists working in academia, politics, government and business to critically analyse the innovations, issues, ideas and challenges in the networked societies of the digital age. The CeDEM16 will be held from May 18th to May 20th 2016 at the Danube University Krems.

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Profiling the Academic Domain of Digital Democracy and Government

The research domain of digital democracy and government is of about full age. There is a dual view, on the one hand a more administration-centric perspective is looking at how services and processes could be improved. At the same time government should be more transparent and open and citizens should participate in governments’ decision-making more than just through voting. Academics interested in the study field became more and more numerous, coming from different fields (such as political science, biology, information science, geography etc.).

Different academic backgrounds

Being used to different standards, these people were doing workshops and were arguing how to do research. They were interested in the same topic, but asked themselves questions like “If I do research in this area of digital democracy, how will that stand with my colleague in information systems research?” Disciplinary diversity, funding, tenuring etc. was discussed. Looking into the body of knowledge in digital democracy, you see quite few collaborations you don’t see in other study domains. One way of evolution is a structure of a study domain and the self-organization. What we do has practical impact, it matters to practitioners.

Impact and reflection

What sets us apart is the projects involving practitioners. Very early on colleagues begun to reflect the study domain. F.i. Grönlund (2003) stated, the theory would be missing in the study domain. There is a tradition on reflecting the domain itself. Looking at the domain of digital democracy and government, unifying theories and uniform procedures and methods were missing in 2006 and are missing still. Scholars identifying themselves as scholars of the domain, special journals (such as GIQ), conferences and the Electronic Government Reference Library (2005: 992 References of peer-reviewed publications) provide the domain with identity and structure.

Electronic Government Reference Library

As a reviewer or as an author of a paper, the search within EGRL gives an overview of what is known about a topic and trends in the study domain. The EGRL is also a tool to do some analysis to identify who publishes on what issues or where scholars focusing on specific issues are located geographically. The EGRL becomes more and more important for hiring decisions and questions like salary adjustments. Analysis of measures like productivity of scholars is possible based on the number of entries in the EGRL. Most of the authors of the EGRL are also members of the EGOV-List (

Indices provide an impression of how productive a scholar is, but how good are these quantitative measures?

Indices are based on different data as f.i. they count citations only of approved journals or include conferences proceedings. Sometimes a high citation index refers mostly to only one paper of a scholar. The H-Index (Jorge E. Hirsch 2005) also gives an idea of who is having what impact in this area. These measures are good enough and at the same time they are not. Lead authorships should also be taken into account. Also single authorships or the average number of co-authorships are indicative as there are scholars with few or no lead co-authorships, but with a relatively high citation index. Also projects supervised and completed and other aspects should be taken into account. The scholar’s unique signature should be captured.


To put it in a nutshell, the average annual growth of publications in the domain (over 20% in peer reviewed publications) is outstandingly high. The domain has passed its infancy and established a multi disciplinary mode of operations. Measurements are necessary but too incomplete to measure the impact of an individual scholar.

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