linguistics publication and other fields

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Mon Mar 29 18:15:32 UTC 2010

Jan Anward schrieb:
> And what would the next adaptation be? To medical science, where you 
> can't cite anything that is more than five years old?
> Jan
I wonder whether this is really so in medicine. By typing "Alzheimer" 
into Google scholar, I get 13000 hits for a 1984 article, and by typing 
"Alois Alzheimer", I get 787 hits for a 1907 article written in German. 
That's not bad, I think.

Anyway, the practice of (sometimes) citing earlier work is no 
disadvantage for linguistics in competing for funding, but the practice 
of widely publishing in edited volumes is. Often there's no particular 
reason for edited volumes, other than habits. And habits can easily be 
changed, if one wants to.

Research monographs ("very long papers") are a different matter -- they 
exist in linguistics for good reasons, so they won't go away. But they 
don't have to be treated as something other than very long journal 
papers. For instance, I think someone should start a free online 
dissertation journal, maybe called "Outstanding dissertations in 
linguistics". This might publish, say, 30, dissertations every year, 
thus giving high-quality dissertations the attention they deserve 
without creating too many printing costs and without occupying too much 
library space.


> 29 mar 2010 kl. 19.02 skrev Martin Haspelmath:
>> Jan Anward wrote:
>>> If there were a citation index that would register articles, book 
>>> chapters, and books cited in peer reviewed articles, book chapters, 
>>> and books, possibly from a selection of journals and publishers, I 
>>> think there would be a more general acceptance of such measures in 
>>> our field. As it is now, only one ninth of the citations of our 
>>> works are counted.
>> Yes, but it looks like our field has to adapt to what is nomal in the 
>> sciences (if we want to be funded like the sciences), so if we 
>> published more in journals (and less in edited volumes), then the 
>> status of linguistics would rise, regardless of the actual quality of 
>> linguists' work. It would be a purely political move, but an 
>> effective one, and it would only require to make some changes in 
>> habits, not any substantial changes.
>> On the other hand, I don't think we necessarily have to accept the 
>> supreme authority of Thomson (a big company owned by shareholders 
>> with no interest in science). It may well be that for the time being, 
>> we will do better with an "expert-opinion-based rather than 
>> citation-derived" system such as ERIH. Maybe our publiction habits 
>> (e.g. the number of papers we publish) will never become very similar 
>> to those of the best-funded sciences.
>> Andrew Koontz-Garboden wrote:
>>> once a proposal is accepted, it is a *single* reviewer that has the 
>>> final say on the completed manuscript, by contrast with journals, 
>>> which tend to have two to three reviewers, in addition to the 
>>> (associate) editor looking at the entire manuscript. Is this the 
>>> idea behind your statement, Martin, or was there something more?
>> Well, it's also that journals are easier to "measure", and many of 
>> them are owned by scientists, not by private companies (mostly by 
>> scholarly associations). I've seen a French proposal to assess the 
>> quality of books by ranking publishers in a similar way as journals, 
>> but that seems very problematic. Publishers should not get 
>> endorsements from scientists for reasons having to do little with the 
>> quality of the publishers' work.
>> (On the other hand, in the humanities a monograph tends to count more 
>> simply because more work goes into it, and replacing this measure by 
>> page numbers, or even word numbers in purely online publications, 
>> will take our field a while.)
>> Martin

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