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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
New faces and transparent standards: writing for Library Hi Tech
Article Type: Editorial From: Library Hi Tech, Volume 28, Issue 3
When writing for any journal, it helps to know the editorial team and their standards. Those authors who follow the standards and who write on topics of particular interest are more likely to be published.
Library Hi Tech (LHT) has long had an editorial team rather than a single editor who made all of the decisions. The practice began when the original editor and then publisher, Ed Wall, recruited first Donald Riggs and then Michael Seadle as co-editors. Michael Seadle serve d as sole editor for four years after Emerald Group Publishing Ltd (then MCB University Press) bought the journal. In 2003, Bradford Eden became Associate Editor for a six year term. This was a very successful collaboration and when his term as Associate Editor came near to the end, Elke Greifeneder was named Assistant Editor of LHT. (Bradford Eden currently edits two other Emerald journals.) The editorial team is now changing again. Elke Greifeneder has moved from being Assistant to Associate Editor and Kathrin Grzeschik has become Assistant Editor. Kathrin Grzeschik should be well known to many authors and to Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) members because of her years of work as an Editorial Assistant. She recently finished her masters with a thesis on “Return on Investment (ROI) in German Libraries – The Berlin School of Library and Information Science and the University Library at the Humboldt University, Berlin – a case study” and she has accepted a position at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin as its Coordinator for the LuKII (LOCKSS-und-KOPAL-Infrastruktur-und-Interoperabilität) digital archiving project. Katja Metz, a BA student at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science, is the new Editorial Assistant.
While the ages of the editorial team members are diverse, he average age is under forty, which has symbolic importance. LHT has always been a young journal in the sense of being open to a broad variety of new technologies and new ideas. We have never settled into a pattern of accepting only articles on a set list of topics, and more than most ISI-Indexed, peer-reviewed journals, LHT is willing to take chances on younger authors and non-standard topics. The “Best Young Professionals” issue that Elke Greifeneder organized in 2008 (v. 26 N.4) is just one indication. The issue did unusually well in the download statistics. Scale’s (2008) article “Facebook as a social search engine and the implications for libraries in the twenty-first century, has been downloaded 2,600 times and was the most downloaded article in 2009. We are planning a repeat ‘Best Young Professionals’ in the next issue and at regular intervals in the future.”
The assistant editor has agreed to take special responsibility for the peer review process, which is the key quality control mechanism for scholarly publishing. LHT has a highly international group of independent reviewers and EAB members. The reviewers range broadly in age and expertise. Some have mathematical or engineering backgrounds. Many have administrative experience. Several are professors at library and information schools. A few run computing operations. New reviewers are welcome and should apply to the editorial team. A typical review takes between three to six hours, depending on the topic, the quality of the manuscript in questions, and the attention given to explaining what improvements are needed. From the author viewpoint the process typically takes at least four or five weeks, in part because the editorial staff must find the right reviewers and they must find the time in their schedules to read and respond.
Remaining young does not mean that LHT has lowered its standards. Quite the opposite, we demand and increasingly get articles that conform to the scholarly standards for social science (or computer science) publications in other fields. We are also attempting to make our standards more transparent by describing the key elements for both authors and reviewers.
The research question poses a problem that has not yet been answered in the scholarly literature in our library and information science field. A good research question should be susceptible to a clear and specific answer using an established scholarly method and backed by evidence in the form of new information or data. A good example of a research question comes from Grzeschik’s (2010, p. 3) thesis: “Can the methodology developed by UIUC be applied to German universities?” The concrete answer after applying the same methodology to a German setting, was: yes.
The research method offers a way to answer the research question. The research method generally grows from the way that an established social science like anthropology, sociology, psychology, or economics has trained their students to think about problems. Such methods may use tools such as questionnaires, interviews, observation, or statistical data analysis, but the questions they pose and the data they gather will vary depending on the research method. A good research article explains the reason for the choice of method and the reason for the related tool. Some research questions imply a very specific method. For example, the methodology that Kathrin choose grew necessarily out of the previous study.
The purpose of a literature review is to justify the research question and to justify the choice of a method. A literature review need not be extensive, but it should set the problem in its scholarly context. A literature review that gives, for example, a history of the development of digital libraries needs rewriting to be more specific. A review that claims that nothing has been written on the subject needs to be broader.
Data should be described clear whether they are qualitative and quantitative. Sources should be discussed and, if the data represent a sample, authors should describe the larger population from which they came. Proxy or surrogate data are common in the social sciences today, and offer broadly accepted solutions for gathering data in settings where direct sources are unavailable because of cost or legal or other practical reasons. Authors should offer some explanation about why the proxy data makes sense.
The types of analysis vary depending on whether the data are quantitative or qualitative. Library and Information Science research tends towards the use of qualitative data, where categorization and cultural context have a significant role. These forms of analysis play especially to the strengths of many librarians. In any analysis the strengths and weaknesses of the data and of the analytic method should be described. It strengthens a paper if the authors themselves address potential problems, rather than letting a reviewer find them. Statistical hypothesis testing of quantitative data is always welcome. Simple descriptive statistics may also suffice, depending on the level of generalization.
These standards for articles are familiar to established authors in the social sciences, but may be new to younger or less experienced authors or those who comes from other research cultures. Not all articles adhere to these standards rigidly, but we strongly encourage new authors to follow them, both to simplify their task of writing and to ease the job of the reviewers. Clearly there are exceptions. Authors are welcome to write to the editorial staff – lht.editorial.staff (at) googlemail.com – if they have questions. Plagiarism is an unwelcome topic, but one that has become a necessary in recent years as submissions have increased. LHT now routinely sends articles through a plagiarism detection system. None of the detection systems is perfect and authors can help to avoid problems by taking a few simple steps.
Any text that an author copies from another person’s work should be put in quotation marks. That is standard academic practice. Block paragraphs that set longer quotations aside in an obvious way are also acceptable. The key is to make clear what has been copied.
LHT and other Emerald journals use Harvard-Style citations. The Emerald web site has an excellent explanation of this format (http://info.emeraldinsight.com/authors/guides/harvard.htm?PHPSESSID=gvprhvuv7r7cq571ml9m4u8867&). It is not necessary in a first draft to have perfect citations, but quotations without reasonable citations will not be accepted.
Warn the editorial team
Sometimes authors want to take a paper that they presented at a local conference and rework it for an article in a more prestigious venue like LHT. While LHT only accepts original work, the editorial team is often willing to regard conference publication as a first draft in preprint form and to accept the work if the author has modified it sufficiently. Advanced warning and pre-approval is strongly recommended, however. Attempts to justify this form of reuse after the plagiarism system has detected it generally lead to an automatic rejection.
LHT has always been open to a very wide range of topics on technology that affects libraries in both the digital and physical form. Nonetheless, the editorial team has some favorite areas that have been or will likely become theme issues in the near future. These include:
Long-term digital archiving. The literature on digital archiving is rich and well established, but the need for scholarly research has never been greater. LHT is not only interested in the technical basis of how current archiving systems work, but in more abstract issues, including the flexibility and robustness of integrity measures, the efficiency of just-in-time vs prophylactic metadata extraction, and the impact of social changes in reading because of digital information.
User experience. The literature on user experience including human-computer interaction and usability is enormous and mixes psychological, anthropological, and computer science approaches. Key areas of research interest include how accurately existing measures achieve their goals, how the internationalization of information resources changes usability paradigms, and how data re-usability can be judged in the user context.
Information economics. This is another large field with significant research activity. LHT takes particular interest in the effect of intellectual property (copyright) issues on the use of digital resources in libraries. The economic consequences of open access publishing models also come under this heading. ROI studies belong to our sister journal, the Bottom Line.
These are only three broad topic areas among a host of others, and the editorial team welcomes technology-related topics that they have not thought about before.
Michael Seadle, Elke Greifender, Kathrin Grzeschik
Grzeschik, K. (2010), “Return on investment (ROI) in German Libraries – The Berlin School of Library and Information Science and the University Library at the Humboldt University, Berlin – a case study”, Masters thesis, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin
Scale, M.-S. (2008), “Facebook as a social search engine and the implications for libraries in the twenty-first century”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 540–56