7.0263 R: Credit Where Credit is Due: Computer Work (1/59)

Thu, 21 Oct 1993 14:23:43 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0263. Thursday, 21 Oct 1993.

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 14:41:04 +0200 (EET)
From: Judy Koren <LBJUDY@vmsa.technion.ac.il>
Subject: RE: 7.0223 Rs: Teaching; Balzac-l; Kudology (MLA) (3/61)

>Date: Sat, 2 Oct 93 20:26:52 CST
>From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
>Subject: Kudology and computers
>I have been somewhat disturbed at the trend to follow what we Germans used
>to call Lohnmoral in computer aided research. The MLA wants to set
>guidelines for who gets rewarded, for example. An example: suppose that I
>decide to do a concordance of the works of Thomas Mann. I obtain an e-text
>from somewhere, ask my university's research board to pay for a programmer
>to write a concordance routine for me, ask the same university to provide me
>with a computer, printer, etc. and an assistant to run it for me. My German
>is not so good, so I ask friends to help, perhaps even get another research
>assistant to help there and run to the library for those inevitable problems
>which arise. I also ask the university to help with the subvention the
>publisher requires. {If you think this is an unlikely scenario, you are
>naive} Who gets the kudo? Suppose there is another person who types (or
>scans) in the text himself, writes his own concordance routine, uses his own
>equipment and has no assistant. Does he get more kudo?

I've been away for a week at a conference so you may have all moved on
past this discussion, but I haven't seen anyone take Jim up on this.
I take Jim's point, but the only thing in the above list that in my
opinion justifies re-apportioning kudos is the writing of the concordance
program. Nobody ever suggested you should get less kudos for paying
a typist rather than typing yourself, and IMHO if you scan or type in
a text that's available from a reliable source you're a darn fool and
deserve *less* kudos than the fellow who bothered to find out that
the OTA has it... If you have no research assistant you'll undoubtedly
be busier than if you had, but how much kudos are you entitled to
expect for doing things that a student could do for you? As for
the university's help with the "subvention the publisher requires",
does it merit academic kudos to be rich enough to pay it yourself?
All these forms of help belong in the "acknowledgements" section.
Period. HOWEVER, if the concordance was actually produced by a
paid programmer I personally would think that merited a by-line,
and if it was produced by an unpaid programmer it certainly does.
(This is a grey area, isn't it? Most books are actually written
to some extent by an editor working for the publisher, who is
however not responsible for content, and who is never mentioned
because s/he's simply doing his/her job. If the programmer turns
out code that does what you have decided the concordance ought
to do, and is paid for it, does he/she deserve more kudos than
the publisher's editor? But if you thought the concordance should
include such-and-such and the programmer persuaded you to do
it differently, then the programmer is partly responsible for
the academic/intellectual content and deserves some of the
credit and/or blame.)

This seems to be a subset of the problem in the sciences: if you
have a research team of 500 people, how many of them get their
names on the article? What about the 300 technicians? Life is
more complicated these days and often you get academic kudos
for being able to manage a team, and you get the team by being
able to win friends and influence people (esp. those in Senate
House); that's life; is it a bug or a feature?

Judy Koren,
The Technion,
Haifa, Israel.