Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


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of voice and tone and an excess of choice

I’ve been working this week on turning a presentation into an article, and keep finding myself in front of two stumbling blocks. The first I have partially gotten past, except for the lingering taste in the back of my mouth.

In my previous career, all journal articles aimed for a scholarly tone and a 20 page length (double spaced, 1.5 inch margins, Times New Roman 12). The only stumbler was finding an appropriate journal based on content and hoping their selectivity took it in.

I have, after a lot of time spent looking over editorial guidelines (del.icio.us tagged editorialguidelines), identified a journal that looks likely. I like them, and hopefully they’ll like what I have to say. Identifying a potential journal allows me to start the writing process — I now know tone, length, style, and can thus begin. The lingering taste? If they don’t accept the manuscript, I will have to gut and reassemble the entire thing because other journals want different lengths, styles, and tones. Quel irritant. But, largely in hand.

The second stumbling block I keep hitting is tone. I am finding it more difficult to get back my scholalry writintg tone than it was to lose it. My breezy educational tone was hard won. When I left my doctoral program and took a position in educational publishing, I was first assigned to work on second grade textbooks. Moving from Kristeva and Foucault to 2nd grade reading level in a single step was…well, let’s just say I asked to be reassigned to 6th grade, the top of the K-6 social studies curriculum we were writing and was able to win that struggle there.

Since then, I have given successful conference presentations, taught hundreds of library sessions and spent countless hours at the reference desk (not to mention all those hours in committee meetings!) and while I think of myself as a dyed-in-the-wool academic, it seems that the in years since I last did academic writing I have lost my voice. The writing is going rocky while I struggle to get it back.

And with apologies to you, dear readers, I suspect that this blog may become the practice ground… please let me know if I lose my breezy and start getting dense. Or, if you have found away to move between multiple voices with ease, how did you do it?

Ad a sidebar, I wonder how much these issues (the difficulties of scholarly voice in librarianship, and the vagaries of style and tone in LIS publishing) relate to the state of the LIS journal, most recently discussed in Stephen Bell’s ACRLblog post “Pay Some Attention to the Research”

What do you think?

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