Deepening the Conversation

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


officially Annoyed

There are so many things, dear readers, that I have been wanting to find the time to talk with you about. But those will have to wait. Because this week a peer-reviewed journal of librarianship published an entire issue by an anonymous hack blogger with a following. That’s right folks — not a magazine, and not a hoax, but peer reviewed journal. I mean, ISI doesn’t have it’s impact factor, but still. Journal of Access Services 5:4 is made up entirely of ‘articles’ by the Annoyed Librarian.

Why does this make me sputter and fume and contemplate fomenting a university-wide mass-cancellation of all Haworth journals? Well, it’s an affront to scholarly publishing for one. There are lots of reasons to rail against scholarly publishing, and I agree with many fo them, but in a world where words are a primary form of communication, I tend to prefer that my words are used how they are defined, and not as double speak. A peer- reviewed journal is a specific thing, and a set of specific things. To wit, I taught my students to tell a journal article was peer-reviewed when:

  • the article was dense with scholarly conversation, and hard for those not in the field to understand
  • the article was attributed, with contact information
  • part of a conversation between scholars
  • contains footnotes and a bibliography

Scholarly articles are also identified by their reasoned arguments, their attentions to both sides of the issue, and the evidence that is brought to bear to support the argument and refute counter arguments.

Are any of these things true of the so-called articles published in Journal of Access Services this quarter?

Has scholarship in librarianship grown so weak that AL is now the best of what;’s out there? Is this what passes for reasoned argument? Is Access Services so devoid of smart people doing interesting work that this is the best the journal could find to publish? It seems like one of the premier publishing houses in the field of LIS thinks so.

Have I lost my sense of humor? Am I being curmudgeonly and behind the times? Has the purpose of peer-reviewed librarianship grown so pointless that we should be OK with this? I don’t think so.  And I think we should revolt. This journal, publishing this obvious pablum as peer-reviewed scholarship denigrates the work of every person who has ever published in the journal or for the press, and every person who does so in the future.

How do we fight back? Scholarly communication still has a place, but I’m not sure there is a place for this press in the conversation anymore. How do we hold them accountable? What amends will make this OK? What actions can and should we, the consumers of this material on all fronts (consumer and library), take to protect our professional interests both personal and scholarly? It is up to us, as the guardians of scholarly communication (of many many hats we wear, this is certainly one of them)??