“You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
-John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
On Citing Blog Posts in Professional Literature and Discussion: How Seriously Should We Take Blogging?
I very rarely check out our stats, referrers, or things like that, but doing so just now reminded me of something minor but that always strikes me as somewhat odd: people citing blog posts as evidence in (our) professional literature. I’ve noticed now, a couple times, people having done that about things I’ve said on the blog, and it raises for me several I guess you would call “meta-issues” related to blogging and scholarship.
I suppose, in part, all of the issues stem from tension between (a) the seriousness and effort I put into what I’d call my “real” work: the things I put an enormous amount of thought into and end up publishing in peer-reviewed, professional journals and (b) stuff I blog about and just sort of write off the top of my head.
Maybe this is just me, but I, for one, don’t take blogging all that seriously, in the sense that it’s more like me thinking out loud: about stuff I’m thinking about, stuff that annoys me, stuff I want to get others’ input about, and so forth. I remember when I was a philosophy graduate student having drinks and dinner with a person who has a very famous academic blog. Someone was saying he should write about so and so serious topic and he replied “It’s just a blog.” This, I thought, gave the appropriate amount of weight and importance to an “academic” blog: yeah, it does have a level of seriousness because the subject matter is, after all,academic, but, on the other hand, it’s just a blog.
Now, maybe this attitude is no longer a viable one in 2015 as it was back when I was a philosophy student: blogs are just taken more seriously as part of the scholarly conversation now. That’s fine, and perhaps I should get with the times. I do think, though, that it takes away a lot of the point of blogging in the first place when we start elevating the level of scholarly importance that we often treat them in the library profession. One thing that’s nice about blogging as opposed to what I’d think of as real scholarship is precisely the fact that I don’t have to hold myself to as high a standard of rigor blogging as I do in a scholarly article. Blogging affords the blogger the chance to put ideas out there, to test them, and so forth, in a quicker, easier, more casual way than you can do with a peer-reviewed article. An average peer-reviewed article takes me at least a year; a blog post takes me anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour. So it always seems strange to me that people would cite stuff from a blog in a serious scholarly conversation, even though it makes sense to me for other bloggers to refer to other stuff bloggers say within the realm of the “blogosphere,” as it were.
So, one question might just be a sort of quasi-empirical one: why are people citing blogs as if though they’re actual, serious scholarship?
Another question: Does one have an obligation to maintain blog posts as part of the permanent record of scholarly conversation? For example, there’s stuff I’ve posted after about five seconds of thought that people have ended up citing, and I’m like … huh, I don’t even like care about this that much, and now it’s getting cited, and my inclination has been to delete it (because, frankly, I think they shouldn’t have cited it as evidence for what they’re taking it as evidence of in the first place). So do we have some kind of obligation to maintain that kind of thing? You, of course, can’t e-mail C&RL and be like, hey, just playin’ with you about that article, I’d like it back now. But I could delete this whole blog in like three seconds, and, let’s face it, the world wouldn’t be much worse off. I guess there’s always “Way Back” stuff where you can get old internet sources, but still.
Of course, the strangeness I experience over the blog-citing thing may have nothing to do with any of these objective issues of scholarship, and more to do with my own subjective experience blogging, where I don’t really ever consider the fact that someone is actually going to read any of this. This blog, for me, is more or less just a personal diary as it relates to our profession, and, as such, I give very little thought to how it’s going to be recieved at all. But maybe that’s more of a 2001-era LiveJournalish view of blogging and I should get hip.
I knew the man he was and I didn’t really care about what everybody else thought of him.
-LeBron James on J.R. Smith
Well, here we go again.
This time the culprit’s an article in the brand-spankin’ new issue of College & Research Libraries (who, ironically enough, recently published a little credo about raising the stakes for research done in the profession) entitled “Learning Style Dimensions and Professional Characteristics of Academic Librarians“:
The article’s question:
Do librarians with different characteristics, such as type of work responsibilities or age, have different learning styles?
In the classroom setting, learning styles need not be used to prescriptively modifylearning materials or attempt to match learning plans to specific individuals, but insteadas a framework by which educators can understand the diversity of their students andby which individuals can reflect on their own tendencies in teaching and learning. Bothself-awareness and awareness of others’ potential differences can enhance teaching andlearning. Specifically, learning style assessments may encourage librarian-teachers torecognize when an alternative teaching style is desirable and to expand their teachingstyle to accommodate a larger variety of learning styles.
Alex Carroll and I presented on the topic “Librarians as Action Researchers: A Practical Framework for Evidence-Based Information Literacy Instruction” at LOEX in Denver this past weekend. Alex has made the slides – which include the now infamous opening Rasheed Wallace slide – available via the University of Maryland’s Digital Repository.
Here’s the abstract for the talk:
This presentation proposes a framework for evidence-based practice for instructional librarianship drawn from discourse in education regarding the role of evidence in professional practice. We propose a framework for librarians to conceive of themselves as “action researchers”: professional practitioners who (1) adhere to the best available evidence about teaching and learning; (2) methodologically test their assumptions about their practice by conducting research in their local environments; and (3) apply these learnings in their own research and instruction practices. This definition differs from the current library literature on evidence-based practice in two main ways: it provides librarians with an established theoretical framework for becoming evidence-based instructors in practice and it elevates data about student learning, rather than professional intuition or faculty perceptions, as the driving force behind our decision making as teacher-librarians. We will next discuss the major practical benefits of this framework. First, it offers librarians a practical model that can be used to professionalize their teaching. Second, this increased professionalization as educators can help librarians more successfully meet the institutional priorities of higher education, the facilitation and assessment of student learning on campus. Lastly, by seriously engaging with the craft of teaching, teacher-librarians are better equipped to become genuine co-collaborators with faculty across campus. The implications of this shift in professional ethos may be considerable; such paradigm shifts do not often occur within a community of practice quickly or without some resistance. Consequently, we will conclude our talk by noting potential challenges and offering concrete recommendations for success for instruction librarians and library leaders seeking to foster an evidence-based community of practice in their own libraries.
Slides here. Thanks to everyone who attended!
Ball don’t lie.