≡ Menu
David Lee King

Peer Review, Journal Articles, and Blogs – an Example



I recently saw Sarah, Michael, and Marcus discussing the peer review/journal article/blog thing, and Michael mentioned the long time it takes to get something into print publication via a print journal.

Here’s an example of that. Remember those posts from a few years back, from a few different bloggers, on how to lose your techie staff? I have recently (almost) published an article based on those posts. Here’s a run-down of the dates, which I find interesting:

  • The original blog posts took place between March 10-12, 2006
  • At Internet Librarian 2006 (October 2006), I synthesized those posts and others into a presentation
  • Then the editor of Public Library Quarterly asked me to write an article based on the presentation – emailed around March 2007, I submitted the article June 2007, it was accepted in July
  • I just edited the galley proof on 5/16/2008

Does anyone see a problem here?

My article is being published more than two years AFTER the original conversation took place. I don’t really fault the journal for their slow time-frame. That’s how it currently works, and my article will hopefully achieve some good: it will point people to the original blog posts and will introduce the topic to non-blog reading librarians. But the original conversation is done. And if I remember correctly, it was a good conversation that branched out in lots of comments and blog posts. Readers of those blog posts could participate. Readers of my soon-to-be-printed article? Not so much.

And now, coming back to peer review. Anymore, when I think of peer review, I think of my blog. I submit an idea in the form of a blog post, and it goes out to quite literally thousands of readers (I’m amazed – thanks for reading!). Each of those readers are my peers – other librarians and emerging tech professionals. And they comment on my ideas… in a matter of hours/days. And I have a chance to respond, to develop the idea further, and to actually interact with my peers. To me, that’s true, useful peer review – instant feedback, criticism, and suggestions from my peers.

Now compare that with the traditional model of peer review – 2-4 anonymous reviewers who grant the right for an article to be published or not. No discussion, no conversation, no interaction. To respond, one has to either write a letter to the editor or write another article – in which case any true discussion is killed.

Which is better peer review?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://newlibrarians.wordpress.com/ JS

    This is a big issue for some of us in academia. I content that writing a blog where people can quickly agree or disagree with you is valid. And definitely a form of peer review. In fact, it’s far more useful than rather archaic and slow process of the published, print journal. It’s past time for us to be recognizing and exploring other ways to provide access to research, information, and ideas. While journals don’t have to go away entirely, I think we need to recognize that ways we communicate and learn have changed vastly over the past 20 years.

  • http://newlibrarians.wordpress.com JS

    This is a big issue for some of us in academia. I content that writing a blog where people can quickly agree or disagree with you is valid. And definitely a form of peer review. In fact, it’s far more useful than rather archaic and slow process of the published, print journal. It’s past time for us to be recognizing and exploring other ways to provide access to research, information, and ideas. While journals don’t have to go away entirely, I think we need to recognize that ways we communicate and learn have changed vastly over the past 20 years.

  • Pingback: Peer Review « New Librarians Blog()

  • Judith Siess

    I DEFINITELY feel that electronic publishing, with comments, is better than print–IF it can be archived somehow.
    Why couldn’t someone write an article and post it on a special blog or wiki, have several selected peers review it (selected by the owner of the blog or wiki, not the author, of course), then publish it with changes–AND the comments if possible. Then others could comment on it.
    If there were a mechanism to control this, it could be much better than the current long, drawn-out, review process for print journals.

    How does this correspond to how online journals work? For instance, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice? (http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIPhttp://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP).

    I think this is something that is of interest to more than academics. If the process were easier and faster, perhaps more practitioners would contribute refereed articles.

  • http://walt.lishost.org/ walt crawford

    On one hand, I’d characterize peer review (at least as I’ve done it and experienced it in librarianship) differently: Peers determine whether the article’s currently publishable and, if not what might be done to make it publishable. That may not be true in other fields, but around here it’s been a conversational process, albeit without names.

    That said, I’m already on record as saying I believe the gray literature of librarianship is, by and large, the most important literature these days, so I’m not going to disagree with you here.

    (I would also note that some journals, e- and print, take a lot less than two years–TWO YEARS!–to process a manuscript, even including peer review.)

  • http://walt.lishost.org walt crawford

    On one hand, I’d characterize peer review (at least as I’ve done it and experienced it in librarianship) differently: Peers determine whether the article’s currently publishable and, if not what might be done to make it publishable. That may not be true in other fields, but around here it’s been a conversational process, albeit without names.

    That said, I’m already on record as saying I believe the gray literature of librarianship is, by and large, the most important literature these days, so I’m not going to disagree with you here.

    (I would also note that some journals, e- and print, take a lot less than two years–TWO YEARS!–to process a manuscript, even including peer review.)

  • Francesco

    I think we have to distinguish the two peer-review processes: the one which happens in blog posts is more related to an open discussion in the time of the post (it is difficult to partecipate to the discussion months after the post has been published on the blog); the other – I agree with Walt – is related to the article being or not publishable (and for what reason). In this sense, one can say that there is a different “time” of a blog post and of a published literature.
    Francesco, librarian (Rome Italy)

  • Francesco

    I think we have to distinguish the two peer-review processes: the one which happens in blog posts is more related to an open discussion in the time of the post (it is difficult to partecipate to the discussion months after the post has been published on the blog); the other – I agree with Walt – is related to the article being or not publishable (and for what reason). In this sense, one can say that there is a different “time” of a blog post and of a published literature.
    Francesco, librarian (Rome Italy)

  • http://lisnews.com/ Blake

    I used to think there was a place for both, and while I’m not one to over hype blogs, I just don’t see any advantage to waiting 2 years to read something. I think Walt and Francesco have it right, there are probably 2 different issues here, I honestly no longer see the advantage to the old way. We have the tools to make it better now we just have to wait a few years for more people to retire.

  • http://lisnews.com Blake

    I used to think there was a place for both, and while I’m not one to over hype blogs, I just don’t see any advantage to waiting 2 years to read something. I think Walt and Francesco have it right, there are probably 2 different issues here, I honestly no longer see the advantage to the old way. We have the tools to make it better now we just have to wait a few years for more people to retire.

  • Kathy Dempsey

    I always thought of Computers in Libraries magazine as that kind of in-between place. Articles published there don’t appear at blog-speed, but they never took 2 years either!

    During the many years I worked as an editor of CIL (till I resigned in Dec 07), I keenly felt the pressure of publishing articles at the right times. too bleeding-edge to be useful? too old to be interesting? CIL never had peer review; I (and other editors before me) made it my business to understand the industry and the technology well enough to be able to determine when something was “ready to publish.”

    here’s another thought: the library industry is like a fast-flowing river. the best any publication can do (print or electronic) is to capture and record a certain moment in time. to me, by the time peer-reviewed journals come out, they are simply preserving history, not moving readers toward the future. that act has its place, but I don’t think journals are the place people go to explore the here & now & new.

  • Kathy Dempsey

    I always thought of Computers in Libraries magazine as that kind of in-between place. Articles published there don’t appear at blog-speed, but they never took 2 years either!

    During the many years I worked as an editor of CIL (till I resigned in Dec 07), I keenly felt the pressure of publishing articles at the right times. too bleeding-edge to be useful? too old to be interesting? CIL never had peer review; I (and other editors before me) made it my business to understand the industry and the technology well enough to be able to determine when something was “ready to publish.”

    here’s another thought: the library industry is like a fast-flowing river. the best any publication can do (print or electronic) is to capture and record a certain moment in time. to me, by the time peer-reviewed journals come out, they are simply preserving history, not moving readers toward the future. that act has its place, but I don’t think journals are the place people go to explore the here & now & new.

  • Judith Siess

    Kathy Dempsey’s comment is right on! I try to be as current as possible in my newsletter, The One-Person Library, but it isn’t always possible.
    However, documenting the past is also worthwhile. We have to know what people did and thought and tried so we don’t make the same mistakes. And some issues never die (fee v. free, print v. electronic, MLS v. experience, librarian salaries too low, etc. ad nauseum).

  • Judith Siess

    Kathy Dempsey’s comment is right on! I try to be as current as possible in my newsletter, The One-Person Library, but it isn’t always possible.
    However, documenting the past is also worthwhile. We have to know what people did and thought and tried so we don’t make the same mistakes. And some issues never die (fee v. free, print v. electronic, MLS v. experience, librarian salaries too low, etc. ad nauseum).

  • http://www.lisjobs.com/ Rachel

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big proponent of both/and here. But it occurs to me that your posts, David, will receive comments because you have a wide and active readership — but Joe Schmoe new librarian who starts a blog is unlikely to get similar feedback. So the value of your “peer review” on a blog seems to depend largely on your name recognition.

  • http://www.lisjobs.com Rachel

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big proponent of both/and here. But it occurs to me that your posts, David, will receive comments because you have a wide and active readership — but Joe Schmoe new librarian who starts a blog is unlikely to get similar feedback. So the value of your “peer review” on a blog seems to depend largely on your name recognition.

  • http://librarybytes.com/ helene blowers

    David- I love this thread and actually think that both have value. But even so, the bottom line is information is time sensitive. The longer it takes to reach critical mass, the less timely it becomes. The balance is credibility/authority… but even that is being challenged by new avenues and tools and I might add, new voices. :)

    Thanks for posting.

  • http://librarybytes.com helene blowers

    David- I love this thread and actually think that both have value. But even so, the bottom line is information is time sensitive. The longer it takes to reach critical mass, the less timely it becomes. The balance is credibility/authority… but even that is being challenged by new avenues and tools and I might add, new voices. :)

    Thanks for posting.

  • davidleeking

    Rachel – good point. It works for me because people already read my blog. I DO, however, think that good librarian blogs tend to float to the surface – those people writing good stuff tend to get noticed, either by thoughtful comments / contributions they leave on a blog, or through other means (ie., google alerts saved searches, etc).

  • davidleeking

    Rachel – good point. It works for me because people already read my blog. I DO, however, think that good librarian blogs tend to float to the surface – those people writing good stuff tend to get noticed, either by thoughtful comments / contributions they leave on a blog, or through other means (ie., google alerts saved searches, etc).

  • davidleeking

    Helene – agreed. And for me, in the librarian, tech, emerging trends field, journals simply don’t cut it.

    It’s possible my focus is different. I’m not interested in “consulting the literature” – I’m more interesting in making our digital services work better. I’m trying to think of the last time I actually DID do a librarian lit search… and coming up empty! Probably about 3 years ago when I was looking for info on a work-related project.

    Interesting…

  • davidleeking

    Helene – agreed. And for me, in the librarian, tech, emerging trends field, journals simply don’t cut it.

    It’s possible my focus is different. I’m not interested in “consulting the literature” – I’m more interesting in making our digital services work better. I’m trying to think of the last time I actually DID do a librarian lit search… and coming up empty! Probably about 3 years ago when I was looking for info on a work-related project.

    Interesting…

  • http://www.eeyorelibrarian.blogspot.com/ The Eeyore Librarian

    Gave this article some link love over here

    Thanks for the great conversation starter!

  • http://www.eeyorelibrarian.blogspot.com The Eeyore Librarian

    Gave this article some link love over here

    Thanks for the great conversation starter!

  • Judith Siess

    I DEFINITELY feel that electronic publishing, with comments, is better than print–IF it can be archived somehow.
    Why couldn't someone write an article and post it on a special blog or wiki, have several selected peers review it (selected by the owner of the blog or wiki, not the author, of course), then publish it with changes–AND the comments if possible. Then others could comment on it.
    If there were a mechanism to control this, it could be much better than the current long, drawn-out, review process for print journals.

    How does this correspond to how online journals work? For instance, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice? (http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/…).

    I think this is something that is of interest to more than academics. If the process were easier and faster, perhaps more practitioners would contribute refereed articles.

  • learnhowtoplaypoker

    The concept of discussing the peer review,journal article,blog is a good news. I am also thinks the same. Mr.Michael thought is good one. I had also seen the old article about peer preview.Its a great news.

  • live casino UK

    The discussion for peer review/journal article/blogs are the good thing to made it. Michel thought is good one. Sarah, Marcus and Michael can think to do best.Thanks for this post live casino UK.

  • Anonymous

    The post is extremely good which is posted by David Lee King. The discussion about peer review/journal article/blog thing is good play slot machines
    .