12.0551 guidelines: mene, mene! & something better?

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 20:52:58 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 551.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com> (9)
Subject: Re: 12.0547 guidelines: the MLA's

[2] From: Tim Reuter <T.Reuter@soton.ac.uk> (24)
Subject: Re: 12.0546 guidelines for evaluation

[3] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (40)
Subject: the MLA's guidelines

[4] From: Michael Best <mbest1@uvic.ca> (12)
Subject: Re: 12.0546 guidelines for evaluation

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 20:49:35 +0100
From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
Subject: Re: 12.0547 guidelines: the MLA's

The MLA Guidelines for computer-related work seem remarkably irrelevant.
As usual, the MLA is years behind the times when computers are involved.

They seem to mix up computer-aided reserach, computer-aided teaching,
etc., want to make the availability of computers to the rest of the
faculty some sort of criterion (do they do this with regard to
non-computer research and publishing? No.), and seem to waffle all over
the place on just what it is they are talking about.

I don't think the MLA is any closer to understanding computers and the
humanities than it was 25 years ago. Try to get your school to ignore
the MLA piece.

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 20:50:21 +0100
From: Tim Reuter <T.Reuter@soton.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 12.0546 guidelines for evaluation

Both Charles Faulhaber and Willard McCarty imply that peer review
is enough to put e-work on an equal footing with conventional

But are there any criteria for peer review? I ask because it's a
phrase often bandied around in a humanities research context,
though I've never seen it tightly defined. Who is a peer? Who
gets to decide who a peer is? Do you need more than one for real
peer review? Should work be anonymised when submitted to peers?
What safeguards should there be against abuse of peer status
(both ways)?

After a recent research assessment exercise (memo to North
Americans: that's when we are weighed in the balance and found
wanting) a historian on the history panel claimed that he knew
which history journals were peer-reviewed, and which weren't. I
certainly don't, and even for those where I do I don't know
precisely what peer review means in each case. But without some
rules, isn't it a meaningless criterion?

Tim Reuter

# Tim Reuter
# Department of History, University of Southampton
# Southampton SO17 1BJ
# tel. +44 1703 594868 (home: 552623; fax: 593458)
# email: tr@soton.ac.uk; http://www.soton.ac.uk/~tr/tr.html
# ALFRED CONFERENCE: http://www.soton.ac.uk/~wmc/alfred.html

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 20:50:37 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: the MLA's guidelines

Thanks to Matt Kirschenbaum for pointing to the "Guidelines for Evaluating
Computer-Related Work in the Modern Languages", published by the Modern
Language Association, <http://www.mla.org/reports/ccet/ccet_guidelines.htm>,
and to Joel Goldfield for reproducing the text.

I wonder if I am alone in finding these Guidelines disappointing, and more
than a little concerned about the revision. The current document seems
largely an exhortation to departments and faculties to consider all the
details, but it carefully avoids spelling out the criteria by which these
details are to be sifted. I note in particular the following:

"Because appropriate roles for computer technology in the study of language,
literature, and writing are still emerging, faculty members should be
prepared to explain:

o what theory informs their work.
o why their work is useful to the discipline.
o the evidence of rigor and intellectual
content in their work."

A statement that the job should be done is, of course, welcome. One wonders,
however, what the committee in question is supposed to do with the
explanation provided. How, exactly, is it to be evaluated if the members of
the committee are themselves not sufficiently well educated in humanities
computing? If the committee goes looking for an expert to advise them, how
can they be expected to tell good advice from bad? It is a shocking fact
that not *all* those who profess to know the subject in fact know it, or
indeed even recognise it as a subject.

That these Guidelines do not mention the Association for Computers and the
Humanities and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, which
jointly sponsor the yearly international conference in the field, does not
inspire confidence....

I wouldn't say that the Guidelines are a guarantee of promotional twaddle,
but without real knowledge at the receiving end, there wouldn't seem to be
much of a filter in place against it.

My question is, how do we arrive at the necessary knowledge? What structures
do we need to put in place so that such knowledge as we do have can be
assembled and applied most effectively?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 848 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 848 5081
<Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
maui gratia

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 20:50:46 +0100
From: Michael Best <mbest1@uvic.ca>
Subject: Re: 12.0546 guidelines for evaluation

Humanists interested in the evaluation of electronic scholarship in the
academy may want to look at the "Guidelines for the Recognition of
Computing in Humanities Scholarship" approved by the Faculty of Humanities
at the University of Victoria. They can be accessed on line as part of the
supporting materials for the Internet Shakespeare Editions at this address:


Michael Best
Department of English, University of Victoria
Victoria B.C. V8W 3W1, Canada. (250) 598-9575

Coordinating Editor, Internet Shakespeare Editions

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