linguistics publication and other fields

Jan Anward janan at ISK.LIU.SE
Mon Mar 29 19:24:39 UTC 2010

Not in all branches of medicine yet, thank God, but even in a field  
such as speech pathology, the pressure is there, as I learn from close  
colleagues of mine. And of course, in any field, there will always be  
a few token 'oldies', that you must cite, like our Saussure 1916.

I agree that there are types of edited volumes we can live without:  
Festschrifts, permissive conference volumes, and volumes that no-one  
can afford and that never get published electronically. Nevertheless,  
there is a division of labor among our traditional ways of publishing  
that I think is worth preserving. To take just one example: no bunch  
of scattered articles would ever have made the same impact as the old  
edited volume Subject and Topic. And as you yourself writes, research  
monographs, a.k.a.  books, obviously have a distinct ecological niche.  
It is of course a very good idea to try and recreate that diversity  
within the bounds of what the powers that be recognize as articles.

But, and that brings me back to my original point, why should we be  
stifled by a stone age technology, which can only count articles? Both  
books and journals exist in electronical form nowadays, and developing  
a  comprehensive citation index is an engineering problem that  
certainly is not intractable.


29 mar 2010 kl. 20.15 skrev Martin Haspelmath:

> 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.
> Martin
>> 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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