Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Eureka! Peer reviewed articles

I understand, mostly, the necessity of the peer reviewed process for articles; it provides a basis for judging scholarly writing by instituting standards for accepting submissions and publication. Ideas and theories presented, discussed, and researched are subsequently evaluated by professionals in a position to understand the ramifications, subtleties, and even plausibility of the topic. Generally speaking, the time frame between submission, acceptance, and publication of a peer reviewed article is upwards of a year. Various reasonable factors influence this timeline; peer review boards may be volunteers, the journal may be jobbed out for publication, editing and layout take time, and quite simply the entire publication process is complicated. Unfortunately, presents a conundrum. One important responsibility of scholarly publishing is getting the information out to the "masses" quickly enough the research and/or topics presented therein are still pertinent. In some instances, I am compelled to question the relevancy of a topic after spending a year or more in the peer review process.

It should be obvious I am waiting for an article I wrote, and had accepted, to be published in a professional peer reviewed library information science journal. Here is a snapshot of the process thus far. Last May, a general call for submissions was sent, and forwarded, via various email lists. Potential authors were invited to provide an abstract on a particular subject for publication. If accepted, the full article would then be submitted for peer review in late August; an approximate time line from abstract acceptance and article completion was six weeks. Congratulatory email notices were sent out in December (I had almost forgotten about the article) with article citation information and a link to the publisher. I was elated to have the first article I had written accepted for publication in a peer review journal.

The publication date has changed four times in the last six months. I am still excited to see the fruition of my work, but the topic discussed is becoming stale. For example, one piece of the article pointed to a newly created library blog intended for publicity. Between acceptance and publication the blog has become passé and is no longer used. When writing anything using a “current” technology trend the shelf life of the topic is minimal and chances are it has been updated or outdated quickly. It is a risk. Ultimately, I would hazard a guess more seasoned authors are used to this process and write accordingly.

Why Eureka in the post title? Two reasons; as I was writing this post last evening I was watching Eureka on Sci-Fi (cool show) and secondly, I pulled up the publishing schedule for the journal in question and the issue published before mine is finally available online with hard copies to follow.

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