Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This editorial provides some good advice for writing and submitting articles for publication in a peer-reviewed journal like CR&L. Key notes include:
  • Give the literature review section some meaning. Don't just list the studies that have been done before - provide "insights that highlight patterns, conflicts, or voids in the scholarship."
  • Have, and state clearly, a research question. The literature in library science is chock-full of "studies" that are merely descriptions of programs and outcomes. The authors equate having a methodology with having a research question - you can't have one without the other.
  • I'm surprised (and pleased) that the authors mentioned analysis & logic. I think this is a "lost art" that is no longer formally taught in graduate schools, let alone undergraduate, except in schools of philosophy.
  • Interesting comment about tone: "some writing is too informal and personal for presentation in a scholarly publication."
  • You'd think we librarians (many of whom are graduates of humanities education) would write with impecable grammar...apparently not.
  • Finally, a note about relevancy: "Some articles are
    well written and interesting but really have nothing new to contribute to the field."
However, this last issue can also serve as an obstacle to those wanting (or needing) to write and publish. I often hear of those who think that the ideas they have are not important to others - "Who would care?" This is where getting feedback from a trusted colleague or mentor is priceless.

In this editorial, the authors are actually referring to simple descriptions of personal experiences (single projects at their institution) that do not contribute to the growing body of knowledge.  Here are some tips that I believe would make our projects relevant:

      • Do a proper literature review (see comment above about giving the review meaning)
      • Have a formal research question
      • Develop a sound methodology to answer this question
      • Conduct the research in a responsible way
      • Discuss the results (even if the results are not "good" or supportive of your ideas) in a logical manner and within the context of previous knowledge.
      • Share your results in the most appropriate contexts.

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