Letter From the Editorial Board
Dear Valued Readers,
We would like to address some of the responses to our recently published article, “Conspiratorial Thinking in Academic Libraries: Implications for Change Management and Leadership.” While we do not believe that a convincing case has been made for retracting the article, as some have demanded, we acknowledge that our current editorial and review practices were insufficient in anticipating some of the responses that the article has received. It is our policy that the authors alone respond to criticisms of their work, should they desire to do so. This can take place within the comments section of the article, or elsewhere. It is wholly up to the authors whether comments made about their articles will be published, and whether they will respond to any particular comment. The article has received several abusive comments that violate our code of conduct, and some of these comments echo abusive and bullying language that has appeared in some of the social media commentary, and such comments will not be tolerated or addressed. This type of discourse does nothing to further the causes that the (usually anonymous) authors may claim to represent.
As you may know, Lead Pipe is an all volunteer-run journal. We have encountered challenges and changes over the past two years. Partly as a result of these challenges, we have recently decided to change our editorial and publication procedures. These changes will occur simultaneously with our move to a new platform that we hope will improve both the editorial process and reading experience. We are currently on hiatus as we transition to both a new publication schedule and a new platform, and that part of this transition will involve a thorough revision of our article submission and review policies. We are also issuing a call for new board members; we encourage you to join us as we usher the journal into this new phase and continue to serve and represent our profession.
Moving forward, we want you to feel assured that we will remain true to both the standards and to the values that you expect from us.
Lead Pipe Editorial Board
You are flat-out wrong. Retract. The requests to do so have been overwhelmingly compelling and well-sourced.
Hi! Is it possible, when the article is published, to be clear about whether the comments are open or not? Because it sounds like sometimes comments are closed at the authors’ discretion. Wondering if that is clear to readers or not – to my memory, comments always appear open on ITL but I can’t claim to have read every article. Thank you!
I agree 100%. It’s awful that people have crafted responses to the article in the blog comments only for them to go into a black hole. It’s a waste of people’s time and intellectual labor. If comments are not going to be published (barring abusive/harassing ones), don’t leave them open.
While I appreciate that you responded, I am really disappointed in the response. There is a rhetorical approach I’ve seen from people on the defensive to focus on “abusive” or “bullying” responses in order to ignore legitimate criticism. You spent more time in this response talking about these abusive comments both on your blog and on social media (which is weird because I haven’t seen any abusive comments on Twitter) than you did on explaining what went wrong in your review processes. You also represented calls/requests for retraction as “demands” (is a call for proposals a demand for proposals? Maybe my vocabulary is off?) which further denigrated our critiques. In addition to my blog post, there have been a lot of cogent critiques on Twitter from people with expertise in survey design, data analysis, and other areas whose constructive criticism you have essentially dismissed with your non-apology. I have served on an editorial board (as a volunteer), I’ve been a peer-reviewer, and I have published peer-reviewed scholarship (I was in fact one of the reviewers of the FIRST article ever in Lead Pipe). I understand and respect the work that is involved. I guess I wonder what would convince you to retract an article? Given that many of your peers feel that this piece is not up to the standards of the publication and harms scholarship in our field, by not engaging with any of those critiques, you are dismissing those critiques. It’s so disappointing and I know I can’t change your mind, but I can promise that I will never publish in your journal if this is your response to your readers’ concerns.
I support your decision to maintain this article in its current state and let the readers make up their own minds about the value of the scholarship and what its implications are for our profession – and how they choose to make sense of the authors’ recommendations. Once you give in to the library twitter outrage machine and allow it to influence your decisions, this journal (and others who experience it as well) will have its integrity permanently compromised. All that said, a review of your editorial policies sounds to be in order, particularly with respect to having qualified editors or research methodology consultants available to thoroughly review manuscripts so flaws can be shared with authors – giving them the opportunity to make the necessary corrections or withdraw the manuscript.
Oh Steven. “The library twitter outrage machine?” Did you actually read any of the critiques before you decided to chalk it up to the “outrage machine?” There were very real critiques about their methodology (including both whether the survey captured what they were trying to measure and the offensive and excluding way they asked about gender), the way they analyzed and drew conclusions from their data, plus their minimal use of the extensive literature of change leadership, choosing instead to only include really dated pieces on the topic whose author had even changed their views in recent decades. Your decision to write off any critique that happens in social media as “the library twitter outrage machine” makes you sound like someone out of step with the nature of discourse today. Perhaps take the time to actually read people’s critiques of the article before you dismiss them all as invalid.
I am aware of the critiques. They make some valid claims. What’s more important is that I read this article and when you compare it to any of the hundreds of LIS articles published annually, this one at least aims to be scientifically rigorous. You could likely subject any number of LIS articles to the same level of methodological scrutiny and come up with plenty of flaws – not to mention so much of our research that’s based on responses to unscientific email distributed surveys. I don’t recall seeing many demands for article retractions though. I hope the authors will speak out in defense of their research.
I think you have to acknowledge that the attention given to this article – and not others – has quite a lot to do with the the nature of the research and the findings. No doubt the readership of this journal didn’t expect to see an article of this nature published here. Even the editors acknowledge much of the outrage on social media – some of which they characterize as “abusive and bullying”. And I see you didn’t hesitate to try to generate a similar reaction to my comment by sharing it on twitter and making use of an ageist stereotype. If that’s the “nature of discourse today” please count me out.
I’m sure there are many librarians, boomers and otherwise, who agree with my position and my right to state it here in the comments. They probably won’t express their opinions though because they fear becoming the target of the outrage. So they stay silent.
Somehow, I suspect the response would have been very different had the group studied been people who vote against library bonds