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Christina's LIS Rant
Saturday, July 28, 2007
  I believe in research....
I believe in evidence. I believe in carefully planned, well-executed, carefully analyzed, and well-presented studies of user behavior. (this is a commentary on a commentary on a commentary- see Walt's Cites and Insights v7 n9 ). Doing research is hard work. It takes a really long time and planning -- and everything can go wrong (yes, I really need to get moving on my current projects!)

It's funny. Many of our most important articles are not reports of completed research. Think of the famous Bates Berrypicking article, for example. There's plenty of room for this-is-how-I-did-it articles, columns, thought pieces, and commentaries - but to really move our field forward, we need actual evidence. This evidence can come from qualitative or quantitative research, if that research is well-planned, carefully executed, and appropriate to the problem. Just about every paradigm from experimental to observational to social network analysis has a place in our field. The reports of work completed must be reviewed by peers in the field who are competent to judge the appropriateness of the methods used, the claims made, the analysis used. It *does* matter!

Are there librarians who phone it in on articles to try to get tenure? Do these articles get published? Absolutely. But without evidence -- how do you know? How do you make good decisions without good evidence?

I'm not concerned with scholarly and authoritative (right now). I've read some poor articles from authorities in our field -- the evidence needs to stand for itself. Using fancy language to hide poor execution is not good, either.

I want to be clear: I'm not opposed to blogs going on CVs or being counted as professional work. Columns and thought or theoretical pieces belong on CVs, so why not blogs? Actually, some areas of classification and bibliographic control are closer to philosophy than social sciences, so those articles may not include my kind of evidence.

I enjoy blogging and I think it's a great way to develop ideas and communicate with others in our field and adjacent fields. I think there are many ideas that deserve to be captured in a more permanent format. I've heard wonderful things at conferences that are never captured, too. I think that bloggers who come up with these fabulous posts should take the time and discipline required to develop the posts into articles and, at minimum, archive them at D-List or E-LIS. We provide access and preserve other work -- is our work not as valuable? Am I not a researcher if my field is LIS? Is there not value for having my work indexed in research databases?

As to the turnaround question -- why not have a "letters" journal or magazine? Why don't we self-archive pre-prints and drafts?

Some people think everything they ever think of is new and different and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops, patented, and published. Others think there's no new idea under the sun and it's all been done before or it's not worthy of publication. I hate to see young librarians with fabulous ideas falling into the second category (I often fall into this category, but I have several mentors urging me on). Get a mentor, get help getting started, and publish!
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina's LIS Rant by Christina K. Pikas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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