At the beginning of the research process for this dissertation, it was envisioned that the assessed document should be re-constructed and made available to a general, non-academic audience, most likely in the form of a book. The primary reasoning behind this was the difficulty for the layman without access to university journal collections and subscriptions in accessing up to date information in the area of Autism.In the course of the past few years there have been several good books published for this audience and several websites that operate as pointers to new publications.
As the project developed however it became apparent that a web based format was both innovative from a methodological perspective and appropriate from the point of view of presenting something of the cognitive experience. As previously indicated, the format presents an opportunity to reach a much larger general readership than a book would do, as it does not have an associated end user cost, and could provide two parallel voices – an academic and an insider, that is reasonably easy to negotiate, dip into or skip through. In addition, web publication of a Doctoral dissertation can potentially achieve greater academic exposure and impact. This point was made as much as ten years ago by Steve Lawrence (Lawrence, 2001) through his analysis of citations vs online availability. Both these points are now well understood (Bird, 2008; Gutman, 2010) and we are seeing such strategies as the Oxford Open Journals Initiative and the US Federal Research Public Access Act.
Perhaps the most compelling benefit of web publication however, is the ability to extend the life of the research and to link it into the music and autism communities through reader interactivity post publication. Each post in the site has a “comments” field that will be made open to the public, and allow a multi-directional, moderated and recorded communication between interested parties. The YARPP plugin continues to draw relationships from the commentary and text and define new links, and it is certainly possible that the site itself could become the subject of further research in the future, as those affected by ASD, whether researchers, families, medical practitioners or those with their own diagnosis, offer their insight.