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Developing Your Scholarly Identity at a Research University

Kate Langan

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Kate Langan
3015 Waldo Library

Scholarly Identity

Developing your Scholarly Identity 

What does it mean to be a scholar at a research university? Let’s dig into the world of research and your unique scholar identity here on campus. After our discussion, hopefully you’ll be inspired as you continue your studies at Western, become better informed about academic research, and learn how the University Libraries can support you. 

Learn how your scholarly identity is attached to what kind of school you attend scholarship and how you as a student participate in that conversation.

In this workshop, you will

  • Understand what a research university is
  • Learn how your scholarly identity is attached to what kind of school you attend scholarship and how you as a student participate in that conversation
  • Be exposed to library services and resources to help grow your identity 

This workshop is presented by Professor Kate Langan, Engagement Librarian. 

Poll: Types of IOHEs

What kind of school is WMU?
Private college: 0 votes (0%)
4 year college: 0 votes (0%)
Masters granting university: 0 votes (0%)
Doctoral granting university: 0 votes (0%)
Research I university: 0 votes (0%)
Research II university: 2 votes (66.67%)
Public university: 0 votes (0%)
Doctoral Granting Public Research II University: 1 votes (33.33%)
What?: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 3

Different Kinds of Institutions of Higher Education

Institutions of Higher Education (IOHEs)

IOHEs are classified according to a few different variables 

Degree granting classification: 

  • Associates
  • Bachelors
  • Masters 
  • Doctoral


  • FTE (Full-time enrollment plays into the classification) 


  • Public 
  • Private 

Research output 

  • Faculty and researcher output (publications, grants, etc...) plays into the classification 

Put it all together

  • R1: University of Michigan 
  • R2: Western Michigan University 
  • SLAC (small liberal arts college) K College
  • Associates: KVCC

Western Michigan University is called a research II university because we grant doctoral (PhD degrees) and has a high level of research activity, i.e. a lot of professors engage in original research. WMU is one of 132 universities that meets this classification.

Your Scholarly Identity: Being a Student

What does it mean to be a student at a research university? 

In your college application, you applied for the job of “student” and were accepted based on your abilities, knowledge, and skills acquired in high school that shows evidence that you can be successful at a research university.

When you accepted your admission at Western, you accepted the job of being a student at a research university and the majority of that job requires that you engage in research and scholarly communication.

One of the objectives as a student is to learn how to organize and share your thoughts and ideas, in other words, how to participate in the scholarly conversation. 

Being a student means

  • your work schedule is 2-3 hours of studying per credit hour for all your classes every semester to earn your bachelors degree.
  • you are both a consumer and contributor/creator of information 
  • participating in the Scholarly Conversation. This is when scholars, researchers, professionals, and students discuss new ideas, discoveries within their field of study.


By taking classes like a biology lab for your essential studies requirements, doing a group project for your class, or writing a final paper in your required major classes, you are practicing how to engage in scholarly communication and research as both an information consumer and contributor.


Poll: How do you participate in the conversation of scholarship?

How to you contribute to the conversation of scholarhip as a student ?
Attending class: 0 votes (0%)
Doing assignments: 0 votes (0%)
Giving Presentations in class: 0 votes (0%)
Writing research papers: 1 votes (25%)
Attending lectures: 0 votes (0%)
Attending workshops: 1 votes (25%)
Participating in study groups: 0 votes (0%)
Talking to family and friends about school: 0 votes (0%)
Folding what you learn into your professional goals: 0 votes (0%)
ALL OF IT! And more!: 2 votes (50%)
Total Votes: 4

Growing your Scholarly Identity

Growing your Scholarly Identity 

Where do you fall on the spectrum?

There a multiple dispositions and areas of growth as a participant in scholarly conversation. 

  • recognize you are entering into an ongoing scholarly conversation and not a finished conversation
  • seek out conversations taking place in your research area
  • see yourself as a contributor to scholarship not just a consumers 
  • recognize that scholarly conversations take place in various venues
  • able to suspend judgment on the value of a particular piece of scholarship until the larger context for the scholarly conversation is better understood
  • understand the responsibility that comes with entering the conversation through participatory channels
  • able to value and evaluate contributions made by others
  • recognize that bias exists in information systems systems, developing research fluency empowers you.  

How can you ethically contribute to the scholarly conversation ? 

  • cite the contributing work of others in their own information production;
  • contribute to scholarly conversation at an appropriate level, such as local online community, guided discussion, undergraduate research journal, conference presentation/poster session;
  • identify barriers to entering scholarly conversation via various venues;
  • critically evaluate contributions made by others in participatory information environments;
  • identify the contribution that particular articles, books, and other scholarly pieces make to disciplinary knowledge
  • summarize the changes in scholarly perspective over time on a particular topic within a specific discipline
  • recognize that a given scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on the issue.

How Libraries Support Scholars Like You

How WMU Libraries Helps you Grow your Scholarly Identity

One of the main responsibilities for librarians is to teach information literacy and research skills.

We do this by supporting students when they need help looking for information

  • research appointments
  • answering their questions in virtual chat
  • giving a presentation in one of your classes or a workshop like this

Our goal is for students to graduate from WMU having developed skills in strategic thinking, how to search for relevant information, critical thinking and understanding ethical issues about information.

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