A Blended Infrastructure for the Scholarly Conference

For over 30 years, Common Ground has invested in developing technologies that seek to break down barriers to access to forums of scholarly communication. In each phase, we’ve leveraged our self-built media platforms to create spaces for interdisciplinary dialogue before it was in vogue; connecting international voices as disciplines too often stayed in national silos; supported an agenda of equality with pathways for diverse voices.
And now we propose another kind of intervention -- a scholarly communication infrastructure for a new blended future.

Prepare for the Conference

From submission to participation, for presenters and attendees, each conference is a personal journey. With the addition of online components, we are now learning anew what was once so familiar. With this step-by-step guide, we hope to walk you through the new phases pre/during/post-conference to ensure you have a productive experience.

1 Complete Your CGScholar Profile

You started to build your CGScholar profile during the proposal submission process. Your CGScholar profile will be linked to your Presentation Page, from the Schedule, and searchable in Community. Now take the time to fill out in further detail to tell other delegates and Community members who you are.

Tips on how to complete your CGScholar Profile in full.

2 Get to Know Your CGScholar Community

The CGScholar Religion in Society Community on the CGScholar platform is your social hub. Take the time to look around, meet and connect with other Peers, Research Network members, and conference delegates, and start sharing updates on who you are and the research you do.

Tips on how to best use the CGScholar Community application.

3 Add Digital Media to Your Presenter Page

All presentations (blended + online only) will be delivered and viewed online as asynchronous digital media. This content is hosted on each presenter's Presenters Page. We require presenters to add their digital media (a video of the presentation as embed code, MP4, PowerPoint, or PDF) to their Presenter Page at least two weeks before the conference start date, as our Program Development Team will review all media.

Tips on how to upload digital media to you your personal CGScholar Presenter Page.

4 Request Digital Media

You've started to look through the list of accepted proposals and see some presenters have not yet added their digital media. You can request them to do so via the Presentation Page.

Tips on how to request digital media from another Presenter.

5 Sign Up for Interactive Sessons

We also offer several interactive face-to-face sessions to accompany the live recordings. Registered delegates will receive a link to sign-up one week before the conference.

For a summary of what's being offered, to Special Events or the Schedule.

6 Join Training Sessions

We know some of this is process is unfamiliar, so we have several training sessions you can sign up for. These sessions will walk you through the CGScholar Event Microsite to show how to follow content, comment, and participate in all online conference aspects. It will also teach you how to update your profile and Presenter Pages to add digital media: video, sound, other files.

View our summary guide to using CGScholar Event.

During the Conference

We believe that time-bounded (days of the conference) asynchronous content, mixed with online social and keynote speaker events, can match an agenda of digital inclusion for online conference delivery. Such an approach allows for a broader audience for all, not privileging one location over another, affording the global community to participate at their time and pace. And we suggest these as principles of a "blended" future, one where we extend all in-person content into the digital space. It is a future that does not silo digital experience but opens a communicative capacity that we believe should become the norm in scholarly communication.

1 Attend Interactive Live Sessions

While the majority of the online conference experience is asynchronous, to start the conference, we offer several live sessions: Plenary Speakers, Talking Circles, Welcome Reception.

For a summary of what's being offered, go to Special Events or visit the Microsite.

2 View Presenter Pages to Access Digital Media

Presenter Pages are where blended and online-only presenters add their digital media. Here you'll be able to view this content, access Discussion Boards during the conference dates, and request digital media from another Presenter if it's not already there. You can access Presenter Pages from the Schedule or list of Presentations.

Tips on how to navigate Presenter Pages from the perspectives of a presenter and audience member.

3 Discuss Themed Panels with Presenters and Online Audience Members

Conference presentations are organized into themed pannels. Every themed panel has a Discussion Board for presenters and audience members to engage with each other's content. While online content is asynchronously delivered, the discussion boards are "time bounded" -- only open during the conference days. You can access Discussion Boards from Schedule or individual Pesmer pages when the presentation is in a themed panel.

Tips on how to navigate Discussion Boards from the perspectives of a presenter and audience member.

4 Find Summary of Featured and Followed Content

We highlight the work of local hosts, Advisory Board members, among others. You can access all featured content from the Prresenatonss tab in the Event Microsite. You can also follow presentations, which will appear in your personal "following" space in the Presentaonbs tab.

Take me to the Presentations tab, where I can see featured content and content I've selected to follow.

5 Add Peers, Make Lasting Connections

Another social dimension available is the ability to add other delegates as Peers -- our social media naming in a scholarly context for "friends" or "followers." By adding someone as a Peer, you can communicate with them during the conference. But we hope that by adding Peers, you can start to build long-lasting relationships for research and personal growth.

Tips on how to as add and communicate with Peers.

6 Know Engagements with Your Work

All Presenter Pages and themed panels have an engagement counter. This way, you'll get a sense of the interest in your work beyond

Tips on how to raise your engagements.


Conferences can be ephemeral things -- we talk, are inspired, meet wonderful people, then go back to our own worlds. We seek to open channels for keeping the conversations alive, long after the conference is over.

1 Stay Connected with Peers

Forget to take a card? Can't read your own handwriting? This will no longer be a problem! You can always return to the Microsite to search in the CGScholar Community lists to find that person of interest.

Take me to my CGScholar Religion in Society Community.

2 Share Updates in your CGScholar Community

CGScholar Community is a social space that we encourage you to use after the conference's close. Here you can share updates, research projects, and other scholarly communication artifacts with conference delegates and the entire membership of the CGScholar Community.

Tips on how and what to post.

3 Go Back to the Conference

What to watch that presentation again? No problems! The archived Microsite will always be available to registered conference delegates. This legacy access for all participants is an important feature of our new Blended Model.

After the conference is over, access content via the Research Network history page.

4 Submit an Article to the Journal or Book Series

We are working to change how knowledge is produced, validated, and shared within member-based Research Networks. Our journals and Book Imprint offer pathways to transform your presentation into formal research objects. We also support several affordable Open Access pathways to allow maximum flexibility and affordability to support open research principles sustainably.

Find out more about Journal and Book Imprint.

5 Get More Involved

We'd love to get you more involved! From general giving feedback to joining the Advisory Board to become a host -- please reach out to us.

Go to our feedback space in the Knowledge Base to get in touch.

6 Join us Next Year as a Returning Member

The best way to stay connected is to see each other again -- in-person, online, or both. When you register, and you've attended previously, make sure you use the Returning Member registration pathway.

A Social Knowledge Place

The development team at the Common Ground Media Lab has been working tirelessly on create a next-generation web platform to support a robust blended conference experience – with the online component being a central communicative pillar where participants and presenters attend in-person or only online.

The CGScholar platform is developed by the Common Ground Media Lab, the research and technology arm of Common Ground Research Networks.

Common Ground Research Networks has been developing knowledge ecologies and researching scholarly communication technologies since 1984.

Our premise has been that media platforms — pre-digital and now also digital — have often not been designed to structure and facilitate a rigorous, democratic, and sustainable knowledge economy.

CGScholar is a platform that seeks to become a trusted marketplace for knowledge work, one that rigorously democratizes the process of knowledge-making, rewards participants, and offers a secure basis for the sustainable creation and distribution of digital knowledge artifacts.

The CGScholar platform is today being used by knowledge workers as diverse as: faculty in universities to deliver e-learning experiences; innovative schools wishing to challenge the ways learning and assessment have traditionally worked; and government and non-government organizations connecting local knowledge and experience to wider policy objectives and measurable outcomes. Each of these use cases illustrates the different knowledge communities that CGScholar serves, while also opening spaces for new and emerging voices in the world of scholarly communication.

With 27,000 published works and 200,000 users, we have come a long way since our first web app in twenty years ago. But we still only see this as the beginning.

As a not-for-profit, Common Ground Research Networks is guided by a core mission: to support the building of better societies and informed citizenries through rigorous and inclusive social knowledge practices, offering in-person and online scholarly communication spaces.