Re: e-publish & citations

Michael John Evans (g8726246@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Tue, 14 Jun 1994 11:54:03 -0400

John, I do appologise for misreading the contextual-intent of your posting
when I called you on the suggestion that the "how-oft-cited" technique
for determining the 'value' of a candidate's publication. I read it as
part of the greater context of the 'promotion & hiring', not a response to
Seeker's post re: the denegration or dismissal of electronic journals.
Nor was my posting as clear as it could have been: Barbara Ruth
Campbell has just said it all much better, and Dwight Read's point that
there is more "interest in maintaining a system that can be manipulated
when needed" echos some of my own previous point, that those who can
change the system are those who have benefited from IT, not from newer
methods of scholarly activity. Nor am I convinced that 'objectivity' is
always better than 'subjectivity', at least when it comes to hiring: There
are several departments of anthropology which are notorious for having
many talented, or influencial or interesting (pick your adjective for
'good') faculty members, who individually, are 'picks of the crop', but
will not go into the same room together: when building a department or a
graduate program, having faculty who cannot or will not work together, is
a BIG problem. I have seen ONE department (I can think of 4 others) where
the kind of Flexibility that Read mentioned, works to the advantage of
students and new faculty: The Chair of the department often worked to
prevent the concretization of criteria, so that rules could be bent when
students or faculty needed 'help'. This serves to make the department a
good environment for students and for faculty. Its a smaller, backwater
type department (the kind McCreery mentions as being interested in
Anthro-L), and so can't claim to be running with the big name departments
but they teach people to be good anthropologists, and do some interesting
research themselves. One of the unspoken criteria for hiring someone,
similar to the criterion for admitting a new Grad. Studnet is "can I work
with this person for several years?" This department has a very good
reputation among Graduate students, and garners a very high percentage of
outside scholarships and grants (higher than a nearby Big Name Institution).
Not having a faculty that can work together is a situation that
affects graduate students and junior faculty the worst: Students b/c they
are the most powerless, and the most severely impacted when their
'committee members' fight their own turf wars through the Grad. But also
new faculty, who risk black balling by siding or associating with the
'wrong' factions. So in this context, objective measures for promotion would
be of use in unilateralising the promotion process, but only so far as
senior faculty (and the Deans of Graduate Studies/ Social Sciences or
- whatever) accept which criterion to build into the measures, and here I
revisit the point I and others have made before about those in power
having little incentive to change the system which put them where they
are. For an analogy, look at the system of "Call" for Doctors in training
(clerks, interns, residents): being "on call" one day in two or three is
common, meaning the intern who treats you in hospital ward or emergency
department may have gone without sleep for the last thirty-six hours, and
may also have been eating poor quality food, imbibing large amounts of
caffiene (or something less legal), and you want that person to make a
considered, intelligent and correct decision about your health problem?
These health professionals, knowledgable about the problems of sleep
deprivation & brainwashing techniques, eventually become staff Docs, or
GP's with admitting priviledges, voters in their state or provincial
boards or colleges of Physicians etc. and yet do NOTHING to change the way
that "call" is organised: the statement "I did it" suffices as rationale
for continuation of the practice.
One thing Junior Faculty or job-hunting PhD's might do is boycott
job hirings and promotions, refuse to publish or do anything BUT teach -
but I rather think the economic and social climate in the U.S & Canada is
very non-condusive to this kind of 'stike action' at this time, nor is
there any pan-american organisation or union of non-employed
anthropologists that could organise such an action. Perhaps if we all
refuse to join the Ivory Towers, and look for work in Advertising, Urban
Planning, Health Organisations etc, the academic departments
might feel some pressure to change the pattern in order to attract 'good'
If you want to talk about methods to raise, or equalise the profile
of electronic Journals, I think McCreery is right to point to marketing:
Offering a financial prize or funding of some sort might help. However, I
must re-iterate that I think that simply raising the profile of electronic
mediums of communication is not enough, it is really just perpetuating
the system of ranking journals... Departments must change their
perspectives too.
This kind of got away from me - I really should go back to the
article I am supposed to be writing..... Heather
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Mike Evans, Anthropology &/ Heather Young-Leslie, Anthropology
McMaster University, Hamilton /or: York University, North York,
Ontario. (905) 525 9140 x23907 Ontario Canada (416) 736 5261
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