13.0455 quality-control in humanities computing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 01 2000 - 08:20:02 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 455.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000 08:14:33 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: quality-control in humanities computing

    Allow me to pose the following hypothetical situation called to mind by
    recent involvement in reviewing paper proposals. It is NOT a situation I
    have faced in quite the form described, but it does illustrate a problem I
    think we face.

    A paper is submitted to a humanities computing conference by person Z for
    review, in which method X is applied to subject area Y. The reviewer, who
    is sufficiently familiar with Y to know good work from bad, can see that
    the results of Z's analysis do not by remotest stretch justify acceptance
    of the paper. Z's articulation of method X is, however, very interesting --
    unquestionably enough to justify acceptance. Let us say for the purpose of
    argument that if Z were to submit this paper to a conference in subject Y
    it would certainly be rejected; perhaps Z knows this. The conference
    considering the paper is, however, a humanities computing conference. What
    does the reviewer do?

    On the one hand, unquestioning acceptance would mean putting incompetent
    work into circulation, with potential loss of prestige for the conference
    and a false boost to a questionable career; making a habit of this, one
    fears, could make the conference into a dumping ground for bad scholarship.
    On the other hand, taking a hard line would mean loss to the conference of
    work precisely in its area (methodology) on grounds beyond the official
    bounds of its competence; one could argue that if the method were very
    good, the chances of admitting a flood of such papers would be nil in any
    case. Is there a middle ground?

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    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

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