My Peer Review of Your Paper (A Parody)

Dear author(s):

I am going to start out with a summary of your paper and a few complimentary remarks. Unfortunately for you, I am a PhD student who just went ABD and is now in the process of writing a dissertation chapter that encompasses everything tangentially related to your topic. It will eventually be thrown away for something more sane, but I digress.

While this appears to be a peer review, it is in fact a game of Battleship. I will make a series of remarks A-2, B-12 etc. in the hopes that i can somehow sink the battleships which are your critical review, theoretical framework, sampling decisions, methodology, analysis and conclusions. In anticipation of this sinking, I will be a little bit nice this time in hopes that karma will extend this favor to me at some time in this process. For this reason, I recommend that your paper be returned with a request for major revisions.

Unfortunately, your theoretical framework does not encompass all aspects of the ever-changing and oft-debated discipline. Worse, it does not include some of my very favorite authors. You should include many more authors and especially my favorites in order to make your contributions to a fairly narrow, but relevant aspect of the field much less clear. The world is complex, my friend, therefore all straight-forward positivistic experiments much include at least one paragraph on postmodern social theory.

Your critical review of the literature is even worse than your theoretical framework. There are at least twenty authors who have said the exact opposite of “this thing that you referenced in your paper” and you need to deal with each in turn, even though they come from popularly tweeted blog posts of something some famous academics wrote one night when they were obviously either bored or very drunk. I also have written a few drunken posts on the topic that I will not mention here, but they are popular enough that if you google the appropriate terms you will find them pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I do not have any published works you can refer to, but that’s only because they are all in revisions themselves.

I don’t really understand how you came to select the cases you did. Please insert a few lines of bullshit that justify why people become interested in a research topic to the point that they wish to write about it. I kind of want to know why myself.

You elected to use some methodology that i do not completely understand myself. Good for you! If I don’t understand it, it must be pretty cutting edge. But, I am pretty sure that if I did the same thing with my own cutting edge methodologies, I would come up with fairly different results. This likely has nothing to do with your analysis, but instead with the way I treat research like a Yahtzee game. You see, whenever I get some great data, I shake it up a few times until I get a Yahtzee! Once I see that Yahtzee, I come up with a great research question. Like this: How many dice are showing the exact same number? Hypothesis 0: not 5. Hypothesis 1: 5. Result: Yahtzee! (otherwise, I wouldn’t bother to write up the results.) Either way, choose a different methodology that is closer to the way I like to study problems.

I am not sure that your analysis follows from your theoretical framework. This makes sense because if you were going to use the theoretical framework in the way it was intended, it would just be duplicating the rather mundane and old methods of people who have already got their first academic job and have received promotion and tenure — not to mention tons of grant money to now do all that research work properly. This will not do. Your first mistake was trying to be both cutting edge and working from the foundations of a discipline. If I can’t sink you on one side, I will definitely sink you on the other.

Your conclusions are adequate of course, because we all know that attacking a conclusion is petty. You are free to speculate away all you want so long as you are sure to include the need for further research. Of course, that need would be subsided if people actually began to accept my papers, but there I go again digressing on the issue.

I noticed a number of minor typing and grammar errors. Hopefully these will not matter as the primary goal here is that this paper never makes it to the final proof stage.

Also, I thought I’d include a little bit of speculation here at the end because I am kind of on a roll. In fact, if it weren’t a complete violation of the rules of peer review, I think I’d want to publish this myself. I think it could become Internet gold.

P.S. I may still be drunk.

P.P.S. In my opinion Rusty Nails go very well with revisions. If you have no Drambuie, just add lime juice and marachino cherries and make a Whiskey Sour instead.

Ten Reasons Why ‘Professional Librarian’ is an Oxymoron

Before you comment, yes, this is an unbalanced look at professionalism.    Yes, I am trolling a little bit – but with a heart that wants to lead discussion on the topic of library professionalism.    Please do write a post about why these ten reason are bullocks.

On the other hand, I often see librarians and library school students that take professionalism as a given.   I see this as unrealistic, especially in an era of rapid change.    I believe we are taught about the struggle for the professionalization of librarianship, how this is tied to sexual discrimination, and seem to rely on Ranganathan’s 5 laws every time something puts our professionalization into jeopardy.

In reality, it is the exceptions that prove the rule.    If librarians cannot personally address the following anti-professional assumptions as individuals, they cannot call themselves professional.    What I am saying is that the MLIS or whatever equivalent a librarian has on their wall cannot count towards any status in society.   Each librarian needs to respond personally to the following 10 things to claim their status as professional.

1.  Librarians Have No Monopoly on the Activities They Claim

You need to pass the bar exam to practice law.    You cannot perform surgery unless you are a surgeon.    You cannot build a bridge without an engineering degree.    Information is free.     Your 12-year-old kid can help their grandma do a Google search.

2.  There are No Consequences For Failing to Adhere to Ethical Practices

Besides the risk of being considered unemployable, a librarian has no real professional obligation to adhere to any of the values claimed by the ALA or any other so-called professional body.    There is no agreed-upon process for dealing with ethical breaches, nor an entity to report those ethical breaches.

3.  Librarianship is Too Generalized to Claim Any Expertise

The number of books in the field written ‘for librarians’ is analogous to books written ‘for dummies.’     The issue is that librarians, rather than having a specific area of expertise, actually need surface knowledge of variety of things – management, technology, community development and so on.   While one could say being a generalist is the expertise, there are larger and more in-depth areas of study like Management, Engineering and Education that could claim the same thing.

4.  ‘Librarian’ Assumes a Place of Work, Rather than the Work Itself

Despite claims otherwise, ‘librarian’ comes from ‘library’ which is a place where there are books.    It’s not an activity, but a product or service.   Thus, librarians rightfully should be treated as if they were providing any product or service.

5.  Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It

The reason why library literature is often horrible is that librarians are collaborative beings by nature.    Articles get accepted because they satisfy a minimum standard, not because they represent the best and brightest research in the field.    True professionals are much more harsh with their peer review because they have an individual interest in refusing competitors the privilege of being published.

6.   Values Are Not Enough

Common values occur in a wide variety of communities, many of which are leisure activities.    There is nothing associated with the values of librarians that differs from any other advocacy group.    Librarians do not deserve to be rewarded simply because they think information wants to be free.

7.  The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor

The main motivation for librarians to assert their professional status is so that they can lay claim to higher-paid “ALA Accredited Degree or Equivalent” positions in library institutions.   We cannot accept any librarian’s claim of professionalism without objective evidence because there is an inherent self-interest laying in that claim.

8.   Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work

The process for creating ‘professional’ librarians has long been criticized for its lack of relevance to real life library work.    It’s like saying we are great espresso-making experts because we understand the secrets of tea bag design.

9.   Competing Professions Are Offering Different Paradigms to Achieve the Same Goals

Computer Scientists and Engineers are discovering ways to make information accessible to the public using search algorythms, interface design, and social media platforms.    Current library practices are following their lead, not the other way around.

10.   Nobody Can Name a ‘Great’ Librarian

Go to a typical university and ask the professors to name a great Doctor (‘Albert Schweitzer’), Architect (‘I. M. Pei’), or Lawyer (‘Johnny Cochrane’).      No librarian stands out the same way that these great professionals do.    No one outside the library field is going to come close to naming Ranganathan either.

So there.    I hope these ten items put a little devil on the left shoulder of every librarian who claims professional status without a good dose of self-doubt to go with it.    In reality, I think these 10 items put a special responsibility on so-called ‘professional’ librarians to step up and provide exemplary service to their communities.    Professional status means nothing to the information world – you have to earn your entitlement.

Speaking Engagements Galore!

Over the next few months, I will be doing a little bit of presenting at various conferences and events.   Here is the list:

 

Wednesday April 1st, at Computers in Libraries Conference, Washington D.C.:   CM Tools: Drupal, Joomla, & Rumba

Alongside one of my library heroes, John Blyberg, I will be presenting on ideas and features around CMSs in the world.    I will be talking about why we originally chose Joomla as our content management system and then switched to ModX, while John will be showing off Drupal.     I only have a small amount of time, so I’ll highlight my favorite feature of ModX (template variables) and just provide broad stroke overviews of the advantages.   The bigger context is what should you be thinking about when choosing a content management system for your web presence or intranet.

Monday April 6 at the Halifax Infirmary Boardroom ( it’s sold out!):  Why Online Community-Building Matters to Health Care and Capital Health

This is a discussion about the current and potential uses of social media in Healthcare, especially in Halifax.   Dave Emmett, the guy who did the “What is Social Media?” presentation at Podcamp Halifax, is teaming up with me to show how people in Halifax are using neat tools like Twitter to engage community and what is being done pertaining to Community Healthcare as well.    Watch this space, because we might see if we can invite people in on the presentation virtually.

Monday May 25 at the CALL/ACBD Conference Westin Hotel, Halifax NS:  Making Some Room: Strategies that Turn New Staff into New Leadership

Using some skills I developed by engaging with folks from Envision Halifax, The Hub Halifax, Podcamp Halifax and others, I am going to facilitate a discussion about leadership in a world where a new generation is about to take over.   How can I speak to leadership and strategy without being Anthony Robbins?   Easy – I’m going to get the audience to do it for me by using an innovative methodology called “The Fishbowl Conversation.”   I will start off by laying down a few principles though – things like “Theory U” and the change process, but in the end, the solutions will come from the audience.

That’s my story these days.   Anyone going to be at any of the conferences?    Be sure to say “hello” if you are!