Why Professional Librarian Journals Should Evolve into Blogs

Marcus writes:

But something funny happened on the way to OJS: I became firmly convinced that the traditional journal model is antiquated for sharing research and knowledge among librarians.  A better course is to develop and nurture excellent blogs, with multimedia capabilities and guaranteed preservation of the postings. This could be an entirely new blog that starts from scratch, or an established journal that evolves into a blog. 

One of his arguments:

Peer review should be a post-publication process, rather than a pre-publication process that sometimes drags out for many months.  If physicists can post pre-prints that get discussions flowing quickly, why can’t librarians?

Read the whole post. I am particularly interested in this for two reasons: I’m on the tenure track and peer-review is important for me and much needed AND I’d like to see more and more opportunities for folks to get their ideas out there, get credit for them, receive feedback, and move forward.

Practitioners and students alike should be able to experience the value of the blogosphere and use it to expand their thinking.I know many great folks in the field are blogging and extending the conversation.I think  Librarians like Cliff Landis, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor who are actively pursuing scholarly endeavors and working to make their libraries better could certainly benefit from a peer-reviewed, blog-based community-focused “journal” environment to get credit for their work, etc. And it should count for those librarians on the tenure track even as the feedback rolls on.

Students too. I just read 15 papers from my Library 2.0 & Social Tech Class — top notch stuff approaching emerging technologies, foundational library practice and more. I’d certainly send many of them to Library Student Journal but I also wish for more channels for publication. 

Finally, as a recent editor of an issue of IRSQ, it amazes me how long it takes from a call for papers to the publication date. Another benefit then is rapid dissemination of content. Why wait months or years?


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6 thoughts on “Why Professional Librarian Journals Should Evolve into Blogs”

  1. I’m seeing a few options here:

    1) A multi-scholar blog that peer reviews scholarly posts on other blogs (can be single blind w/ anonymous reviewer)
    2) A blog of scholarly submissions that is open for peer-review by other established scholarly blogs (could also be single blind w/ anonymous author)
    3) A pair of blogs, one for submissions and the other for review (for double-blind)

    Authors and reviewers could easily be screened by sending the blog(s) editor a CV, and a simple WordPressMU installation(s) should be able to handle the workflow.

    What do you think?

  2. The Physics literature is a good model to base some further discussion around. Physics has a long tradition of preprint publication and active community participation in the discussion/debate of preprint-presented findings. This community tradition led to early internet adoption to better this existing community practice. Physicists are also active journal article writers. Why? Authority and quality. The community has a shared value in the authority and quality that comes only from formal peer-review and publication of the best-possible contribution to the formal, archived, and indexed literature of the field. Members of the Physics community participate in this research literature development cycle by “putting it out there” via preprint and actively commenting on others’ preprints, submitting research articles to journals that have been informed by community preprint discussion, and serving as pre-publication peer reviewers of their peers’ journal articles.

    Does this sound like LIS research literature and our community of research-publishing academics and practitioners? No. We have no preprint tradition, no community tradition of boldly transparent, open, and participatory research literature discussion and development. The majority of our peer-reviewers come from just one slice of our field: academics or academic / medical librarians. Sure, a segment of our community discusses and shares opinions using blogs but we don’t have an existing tradition of public discussion of our research literature to harness and make better using today’s internet tools like the Physicists did and do.

    Leaving aside much-discussed criticism of the quality, impact, or value of our collective research literature, is it really in our best interest to leave our research literature publishing to scattered blogging efforts? Are we really just needing a tool to improve our research literature? There is most certainly a place for blog-based discussion of LIS research but it is short-sighted to think this is where we should be directing our research literature output. We don’t need “a professional shift that values speed of new ideas over polished presentation” anywhere near as much as we need increased community engagement and participation in all facets of the development of a deep and rigorous research-base for all areas of librarianship.

    As one of four editors of EBLIP , I know first-hand that LIS research literature can be published with a quick turn-around, online-only and open access, with the authority and rigor of formal peer-review, the backing of our institutions for continuity (or associations, see The Partnership Journal as another example ), LOCKKS-ready preservation and archiving, transparent and documented governance and editorial policies, OAI-compliant indexing, as well as the ability for post-publication comment embedded with the article. This is made possible by the brilliance of OJS and this the stewardship and care that our research literature deserves. This is also made possible with an engaged and committed group of international community members working in a fully volunteer effort for editorial, peer-review, and production work. See: Richard’s “The Ins and Outs of the Peer-Review Process” and think if you’re willing to put that rigour into your blog comments.

    Regardless of the technology used to communicate research findings (paper or online journal, blog, wiki, what have you), there is a tremendous difference between pre-publication blind or open peer review and pre or post publication comment and discussion. The Physicists know this. Indeed, the Physics community is leaps and bounds ahead of the LIS community in taking control of access to their research literature. The High Energy Physics community is currently spearheading the first research community driven initiative to make all of their peer-reviewed, authoritative literature fully open access (see: SCOAP3). That their preprints are already openly available isn’t sufficient as they do not represent or replace the quality their community expects of their formal research literature. We have much to learn from the Physics community and we need to talk more about this issue using any of the forums available to us. Thanks to Marcus and Michael for contributing to the discussion.

  3. Michael,

    Many thanks for re-surfacing this issue. It generated some buzz when I wrote in February, but then fell off the collective radar screen like everything else.

    Great comments from everyone. Pam, I wonder if what will evolve is a tiered system in which blogs and journals serve different purposes. Excellent ideas, Cliff. And Dorothea, I’m pleased to say that I have a few items in E-LIS!

  4. Hi ! ;)
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that I’v found your blog very interesting
    And want to ask you: what was the reasson for you to start this blog?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter

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