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?