Why become part of a Learned Society? 22/06/2010This discussion must be preceded by the acknowledgment that it is entirely possible to do distance learning (ODL) as a professional without having a "scientific" attitude, as in, without worrying about a work preparation that is both systematic and exhaustive, without the maintenance of quantitative and qualitative analytical records of transactions, and without preparing final reports which make it very clear what works and does not work and why. But it is not possible to achieve and maintain a level of quality for long because the constant improvisation, poor oral communication and the difficulty in being able to compare data due to a non-systematic system, will not allow a safe understanding of the process, or its evolution in a sustainable manner.
The "essence of science" has always been communication between professionals, organized according to their areas of expertise, and meeting in person regularly in conferences, congresses and symposiums on global and local levels, and in these intervals, using printed and electronic media to exchange information and knowledge. Such communications being research reports, significant experiences or theoretical essays whose intention is to add new data and new ideas to the specific area, giving recognition to researchers / authors and their institutions.
The oldest scientific societies or "learned societies" appeared in Europe in the 17th century to organize the meetings and publications of different areas of knowledge. Its members, through different councils, committees and interest groups, determine the configuration of the paradigm of the area, such as what can be considered part of it, what can be considered an "original contribution", something innovative, of quality, or deserving of awards. Those who do not participate in the scientific society of their sphere of action can hardly have a significant impact among those specialized members of the community because their ideas have not been corroborated by their "peers", those that select the communications for publications of the conclaves of the scientific societies.
While professionals and academics in Europe and North America -where there is a long tradition of scientific societies -identify more with the associations to which they belong rather than with the institutions in which they work (and which they transfer from frequently); in Brazil the reverse situation is true, probably due to the relative scarcity of these associations in the country. What are the benefits of being an active member of a scientific society in an influential field of knowledge?
- The satisfaction of belonging to a community of professionals, meeting their leaders and, if possible, advancing their personal career by participating in various boards and groups;
- To have contact with the newest ideas circulating in an area of expertise and to have the opportunity to present, in the events of the community, their own ideas and discoveries;
- To make new friends and renew old friendships ("networking"), a professional skill important in order to find new job opportunities.
Joining a scientific society in your area is not required in order to participate in it, but it is a demonstration that the individual feels like a part of a community, it is shown by paying one's tuition and contributing one's efforts to the growth and progress of the area. It is the professional equivalent of being a good citizen.
Fredric Michael Litto
Chairman of ABED -Brazilian Association of Distance Education
January 21, 2009
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