12.0552 guidelines

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:52:30 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 552.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Mary Dee Harris <mdharris@acm.org> (9)
Subject: Re: 12.0551 guidelines: mene, mene! & something

[2] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (27)
Subject: Evaluating computer work

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:48:02 +0100
From: Mary Dee Harris <mdharris@acm.org>
Subject: Re: 12.0551 guidelines: mene, mene! & something better?

With regard to Willard's comment that the MLA Guidelines do not mention ACH
or ALLC, I had to wonder whether either (or both) of these relevant
associations has developed their own guidelines for evaluation of
computer-related work in language, literature and the humanities. Such a
statement would be welcome from those who actually do this sort of work.

Mary Dee Harris, Ph.D.
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science
The University of Texas at Austin

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:48:25 +0100
From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: Evaluating computer work

I have only a couple of remarks. The problem of peer review (gatekeepers of
science topos) is insurmountable; most people think we must have it. The
problem is that none of the people in my department would be able to judge
work in computers, since they use the computer mostly as a typewriter, with
some network involvement. Not to badmouth my own department, this would be
true of most departments I know of. This means that errors are inevitable,
both as to promotion and letting go. Next, there is the problem of who does
the work. I know of people who have published concordances, for example,
who downloaded the text, outsourced the programming, made a KWIC
concordance, so there was little formatting, got it published and submitted
it to the tenure committee. Such work should not count. On the other hand,
if you write a concordance program yourself, no matter how good, you will
have a hard time getting any credit for it. To wax personal again, I once
designed a program which would allow you to type a Gothic manuscript in any
one of the 21 scribal hands (you could even mix them) and forge a
manuscript. When I sent our chancellor a copy, he told me at a cocktail
party: "That's great! I can do that on my Mac." Oh, sure.

I suppose one needs guidelines, and certainly a tenure committee forms a
peer review group. I am reminded of the lines my old friend Colin Cherry
once wrote (On Human Communication, p. 23):

"In point of fact, when a young man enters a large business or industry
{read university, JWM}, filled with zeal, he imagines that above him there
is an Ordered World; but as he climbs the ladder and reaches the giddy
heights of Administration, only then does he slowly come to realize that the
`machinery' may be very nebulous -- an affair jerked along by clash of
personalities and given momentum by ambitions."

One must not confuse the de jure, de more and de facto aspects of reality.
Jim Marchand.

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