Angel Rivera was kind enough, in commenting on my previous post, to say “Yes, what you do is information science.”
I wonder sometimes–both about the field called “information science” and about whether what I do fits within it.
A snarky way to put this might be:
Can you do information science if you’re not part of academia?
Can it be information science if it doesn’t appear in the form of proper scholarly articles in proper refereed journals?
Not that I haven’t had articles in refereed journals. I have–not many, but a few.
But most of what I’d call research, particularly in the past few years, hasn’t appeared there. (Actually, my major research projects in previous decades didn’t result in scholarly articles either. That’s another story.)
What I can say about the research behind the two library blog books and the liblog book:
- I’m transparent about methodology.
- I’m scrupulous about following the stated methodology.
- I don’t discard “outliers” or otherwise manipulate the evidence to suit any hypotheses.
- I use statistics conservatively and, I believe, appropriately–particularly in The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008, which includes a lot more statistical analysis than the others.
- When I state hypotheses, I spell out the extent to which the evidence does not support the hypotheses.
OK, so some statisticians would say I barely use statistics at all in the last-mentioned book, but that’s another discussion.
Outsider research not properly reported?
On the other hand…
- My reports on the research don’t include literature surveys, extensive notes on previous related research (such as it is), the rest of the scholarly apparatus.
- My reports appeared as books (later articles in Cites & Insights) rather than as articles.
- Nobody’s vetted the research or replicated the work.
- Most importantly: The work hasn’t been cited by any information scientists, as far as I can tell.
If research falls into publication and none of the scholars in the field cite it, does it exist?
I don’t have answers. I don’t fancy myself a scholar. I do dignify the work I’ve done as research, and believe it’s a lot more carefully (or at least exhaustively) done than some of the stuff I’ve seen Properly Published. (And I know from this and other projects that I could gather “statistically reasonable” samples that would prove almost any set of hypotheses I cared to offer.)