Sun 23 May 2010
I came in a little late and missed the introductions, but through a combination of context clues (using context! Daniel Pink would approve) and peering at name badges, I was able to deduce the following names for the speakers. If I got anyone wrong, please correct me!
As a blogger myself, there was a lot of interesting stuff here. I especially noted the point about the sometimes-transient nature of blogs, having lost a blog before. Save your work! Somewhere besides on the blog server! (I can say this, because I know I should, but I don’t actually do it, so I am a horrible example.) Following, my messy notes from the session:
As the current editor of JMLA, has been thinking about this. The challenge is how to get info out there fast, while at the same time retaining the authoritative value journals can provide. There are different levels of information: you want the authoritative, thoroughly reviewed info, but you also need certain information quickly, so less formal channels are good.
Possible model: something called ‘MLA Notices’ (or whatever–the name isn’t important) from JMLA/MLA? Could offer a low barrier to publication: something could go online as long as someone on the board thinks it’s useful. At the same time, it’s slightly more formal than a personal blog, so you don’t have anyone sticking anything they feel like on the site. Could be less risky for the publishing organization than putting something in print/on official site, allowing for more speculative, less reviewed content. Would be able to receive comments, provide space for discussion. One concern is whether there will there be enough contributors.
Blogs are currently being used very widely, often in professional life. There are a lot more medical library blogs since the Web 2.0 101 online course offered before MLA 2008. Some 2.0 tools are becoming critical for professional life–even if you want to drop Facebook because of their privacy policies, you don’t feel you can because they’re such a key tool for contact. CE credit is available through managing blogs/wikis.
But is a blog equal to an older print newsletter? The Public Health Section has transitioned entirely to a blog from a print newsletter. Do the contributors get AHIP credit for bylined articles on the blog? Blogs are seen as being very casual, low-maintenance–not always true! She posted a lot of original research onto a blog, then thought that maybe she should have written it up for publication in JMLA instead. Another concern is, how permanent are blogs? They tend to die off as personal interests change, since they so often represent personal effort. She is looking more often at formal methods of publication these days.
Presentations at meetings also tend to be lost, so archiving is a pressing interest for informal publication methods in general, not just blogs.
There are several good things about the existing formal methods: they can do a good job of sorting out the best from a big pool of submission, of working with authors to improve ideas/pieces, and of collecting things into one place for access. One might ask: why work through formal process anymore, when it’s so easy to stick things online?
Pluses of the formal process: editorial development, central archive, selection, preservation, peer review.
Minuses: lack of speed, space, interactivity. Speed issues is somewhat addressed by electronic prepublication, but this is limited.
How to broadly apply e-benefits?
Everything is pre-publication–put them all online ahead of print (post peer review, etc.). There is an issue of how to cite articles when there’s a rolling issue…would have to figure this out. PLoS is working on it.
Everything is online, maybe online-only. Print might be an annual anthology, rather than at the same time as online. Can include more stuff this way, things that won’t fit in print. A lot more stuff–reviews, etc.–that would not be printed should be compiled with journal online.
Not everything is or needs to be a journal article. Some things do work fine just going online. How we did it pieces, etc.
Everything has comments–taking advantage of the interactivity of the web. Rapid Responses on BMJ is an example of how this might work, allowing useful conversations to happen right away.
Created a resource that’s a big website with a lot of links/urls. Gets flattened by print, not nearly as useful. Linked by lots of places, including LC, so why not valued as it is? He skims JMLA to see if he recognizes anyone or if any titles look interesting, than sticks it on the shelf.
We need to properly value the communication provided by informal methods, which may be respected more in some other disciplines. Where timeliness is important, informal methods tend to be accepted/respected: he would argue that timeliness is important in medical librarianship. If you want to know what’s happening, don’t read literature, go online.
There are sites for blogging about peer-reviewed articles: authors can build on/respond to original articles, adding a lot of value. ScienceBlogs is an example. Could we do something like this?
Invited presentations/publications/posters that aren’t peer-reviewed may also be of value and worth saving. How do we evaluate them for tenure/promotion purposes? It may not be that complicated: Google yourself, see if your work has been cited, downloaded, linked in courses, etc.
Peer review: not totally broken, but has some issues. Is it really synonymous with quality? Fairly recent innovation, not widespread until 20th century. In the 19th century it was just the main publisher reviewing, then an editorial board, then a panel of experts…basically peer review developed as a way to manage volume, not assess quality. Known problems with review: conflicts of interest, peers who may not really be experts or read carefully, positive reviews not always meaning publication.
Since blogging is often personal, how do we manage the bleeding of personal/professional online?
Melissa: Can try keeping two separate online identities, but this is hard to maintain. These days, seems to not be such a problem having some personal life in your professional identity.
Rachel: Agreed. Just do your thing, let the personal appear. Even if your blog is super-professional, people will still find you on Facebook. It’s out there if it’s online, so not worth stressing about.
What about this peer review discussion?
Eric: Not saying get rid of it, since it does do useful things–just that there may be a lot of other ways to get its power of vetting ideas, etc.