Issue 47, 2020-02-17

Editorial

on diversity and mentoring

by Péter Király

Last month in the EuropeanaTech mailing list the organizers announced the 2020 IIIF conference [1]. In the announcement there was a sentence about diversity: “Only panel sessions that have a diverse set of panelists will be considered, with representation along many possible dimensions, including but not limited to race and ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, and socio-economic status.” One of the mailing list recipients expressed his opinion that this sentence gives priority to diversity over the quality of content. The mail triggered a passionate discussion on this question without a real conclusion — I won’t repeat arguments here, if you are interested, please read the mailing list archive. This discussion gives me an apropos to bring up the topic again, which has been already discussed multiple times in previous Code4Lib Editorials, focusing this time on geographic diversity. The majority of Code4Lib authors are affiliated with North American organizations (however based on their names they might come originally from different parts of the world). Fortunately in almost every issue we have an article from Europe, and from time to time we have articles from Asia and Australia. As far as I remember we have never published any articles submitted from African and South American cultural heritage organizations. Thinking about the reasons behind it, I think that one of the reasons might be the way we select proposals.

Our editorial process starts with the evaluation of the submitted abstracts. The result of the evaluation is binary: yes or no. Sometimes it happens that we ask questions from the submitter or ask her to refine the abstract, but in the evaluation period we have time constraints (usually there is an overlap between abstract evaluation and the final steps of publishing the current issue, plus all of us edit Code4Lib in our spare time). All in all, the abstract is expected to be ready for the evaluation. This system does not provide a real feedback loop to authors who do not have experience with writing proposals and articles.

To encourage submissions from outside of North America and Europe, I’d like to suggest a kind of mentorship process, in which the author could start discussion on her plans before submission.

To start it immediately, here are some hints to prospected authors. In the evaluation process we consider different aspects: the article first and foremost should fit with the thematic scope of Code4Lib, i.e. it should discuss an important IT aspect of cultural heritage. We receive very promising proposals which however are out of scope, so we finally don’t accept them. Second, it should have a clear, well expressed focus. Third, the article should have novelty. It does not mean, that it should talk about a high-tech, avantguard and groundbreaking development. We are looking for case studies, application of well known solutions in different environment. Our purpose is to publish articles that would be useful for others. If the approach is applicable in organizations similar to the author’s organization, and the details of that setup has not been published elsewhere, it fits well to our profile. Finally proficiency in English is not a requirement. During the editorial process we can help authors to fix language issues.

This preliminary discussion is but a small step; it is not equivalent to an academic writing course, or a textbook on the topic, but it is something I could do, and perhaps it will be helpful for some professionals, and in addition might improve the geographic diversity of the Code4lib Journal. If you are interested, please contact me via kirunews(at)gmail.com.

Happy reading and happy coding!

[1] https://list.ecompass.nl/listserv/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind2001&L=EUROPEANA-TECH&D=0&P=965

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ISSN 1940-5758