Open Access Tenure: Conferencing

Posted April 22, 2015 By Abigail Goben

I’m in Minneapolis, where the Research Data Access Preservation Conference starts tomorrow morning. I got in mid-afternoon and friends and colleagues have been trickling in all evening, leading to fun encounters in a restaurant, on the street, in the elevators.

I love this conference because it is small and because it is targeted at a very specific group of librarians. Also, because I come here to learn.

ALA Annual and Midwinter are amazing behemoths. There’s such huge variety of things to take in and so many people to see from around the world that just reading the conference program can be overwhelming. As I’ve become more and more involved with LITA, the conferences have become more about working on committee things for me and, unfortunately, far less about getting to learn. At ALA Annual last summer, by the time I’d given my pre-conference, gone to 2 board meetings (as a guest), and attended my own other obligatory meetings, most of the conference was a wash.  It’s part of being in an organization and the work has brought incredible experiences but it does tend to isolate you off from the rest of the conference, working hard to ensure good things for others.

RDAP–even having helped a bit in the planning this year (truly, just a bit, Carolyn and Margaret have done the vast majority of wrangling) and even though tomorrow afternoon I’ll be speaking for a few minutes–is a learning conference for me. Last year, my first year attending, I volunteered for nothing, I spoke about nothing, I just attended, listened and learned. Met people who were facing problems like mine, laughed over dinner and drinks, commiserated and came away stronger.

RDAP is a professional soul-feeding conference for me. I hope to leave on Friday somewhat reaffirmed in the work that we’re doing and refreshed. It’s not quite as good as a rest–I still could really use a vacation that doesn’t involve obligation travel (e.g. wedding)–but for now it will do.

And the chance to hang out with this many cool people doesn’t hurt either.


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Open Access Tenure: Every Day

Posted April 14, 2015 By Abigail Goben

Earlier in the year I noted to myself that come April, I would need to think about my tenure process every day.  It didn’t necessarily have to be a huge amount of thinking and some days it could be thinking though many it should be activity as well as though, but it had to be daily.

It’s mid-April now and while I’m not sure I’ve hit every single day, it’s certainly started to ramp up.

Why now? I’m coming to another crossroads: my next internal vote.  Granted, the vote itself is not until next February (ish, I think, based on last year’s calendar), but there’s much to do in the interim.

My paperwork adviser from the P&T committee is retiring next month. Yes, this would be the third person on my P&T support team (two paperwork people and Madame Mentor) who have retired. I like to think it isn’t me personally…after all Madame Storyteller isn’t retiring until this fall, nearly five years after I left her august supervision. But that means as I’m starting the dossier process again, I’ll be switching around one adviser. In advance of that, I’m meeting with my current one in a couple of weeks as a kick start to all of this.  Somewhere in the next few days my daily thinking will need to be the activity of starting to pile things up (electronically) to show her so that she can make recommendations.

There are a number of my colleagues who are heading into their first round of review this fall, so I’m not alone navigating the trepidation, though it’s a different round. I imagine there will be some mutual pulling-our-hair-out-over-coffee-while-wordsmithing happening around early October.

From here on out, it’s basically 2 years of constantly working on promotion and tenure concerns:

  • April-August: start updating my statements (librarianship, research, service), list of accomplishments. (I’d include update my CV, but I keep a live running version of it and update at least once a month.)
  • August-October: have my teaching observed, rewrite my statements 6 times. Try to find a smaller but still legible font to meet the 1 page limit.
  • October-ish: Evaluation of Librarianship committee stuff, statement of librarianship, CV, and accomplishments should be finalized-mostly
  • November: Obsess over dossier
  • ~December 1: Turn in dossier
  • December-February: Worry about the discussions in P&T committee and the vote
  • February-May(ish): [assuming a positive vote] Start panicking–I mean preparing– for packets that go to external reviewers
  • May-August: Worry about external reviewer comments that I will never see
  • August-December: Sit under my desk eating Snickers bars* waiting for the next vote
  • December: Final internal vote [includes external reviewers comments]
  • January-April: [assuming a positive vote] Whatever other prep is necessary for my papers to go to campus. Somewhere in here (I assume) I’ll have to move my dossier from the 2015-2016 packet that I’m filling out currently to the 2016-2017 packet. They like to tweak things.

Somewhere around April 2017 my case should go before campus and at that point I truly can’t do anything else with it.

What is not listed but inherent throughout this is (a) continue researching, writing, and presenting–we can include additional papers up until things go to campus; (b) everything else in my “real” job; (c) keep doing all the service stuff.

That’s my thinking about tenure for today.  Now it is back to obsessing over when I’ll hear back from that journal that we sent a paper to and it’s out for review and why haven’t we heard yet and maybe the email system is broken and it’s updated only on their website, I’ll just log in and check one more time.

*Madame Mentor said she opted for M&Ms during this period.




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Posted April 12, 2015 By Abigail Goben

The longer that one waits to write a blog post, the more it seems that whatever blog post is written must be painfully significant, deeply thought out, and making changes in the library world.

This is not that blog post.

This is giving myself permission to write again, a reminder that I like blogging. I do. I think about the blog often, but usually at the end of a day where I’m squashed on a train and wondering which parts I can actually write about and what parts I need to let slip by. Can I mention that thing? Is that impolitic? Should I be writing my various and sundry thoughts or is it just easier to crawl back into the audio of whatever Terry Pratchett I’m re-listening to.  Recently, the late Sir P has been winning hands down.

But it’s now late spring and things are coming at me very fast whether I’m ready for them or not. The end of the semester is bringing graduation of the class I came in with from the College of Dentistry. A larger project, for better or worse, is about to wrap up and I need to spend time with the other project leads to write up the experience. It will kick off two other projects, of course, but those are not yet actually beating down my door.

Committees, professional service, all these things clamoring at my to do list and inboxes, rendering my weekends into a haze of staring at a computer screen.

Oh, and I’ve reached that point where I need to think about tenure every day again.  Right. That too.

And there, now I’ve written a page, I can recognize that yes, it’s nice to be writing again. But only briefly as the to do lists and everything else awaits.

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The 10 Year Mark

Posted January 12, 2015 By Abigail Goben

I graduated from library school ten years ago this month.  Of my cohort of under-30s from when I started library school, two had graduated the semester before and MF and I finished up in December for January degrees. I did not walk that spring, the idea of going back and spending that much money at a time when I was supporting myself with a part-time job in New York seemed ludicrous.

I had a lot of problems with my program, though there were some highlights: the database design course, learning Dialog (blue sheets!), interning at NYPL Lincoln Center. Nearly all of the faculty have changed since I graduated, so I can’t speak to the program these days, though I’m sure it’s improved. Other than asking me for money, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to engage as an alumni.

Librarianship has changed a lot in those ten years already. It was during graduate school that I got my Gmail account– given out only to those with invites and highly coveted. Much of my communication with peers was via email lists (who else remembers NexGenLib and the various kerfluffles that led to it’s start?). Cell phones were ubiquitous but smart phones weren’t really yet a thing beyond Blackberries, which I perceived as only for email.  Many of the tools I remember learning about or interacting with are gone or seem painfully unusable. Journals were moving towards electronic access but much of it was still heavily print based.

And yet much remains the same. Patrons want seamless access–whether that be print books shuffling around the NYPL system (still the best I’ve run across in terms of moving holds), getting electronic books (I was a very early Overdrive user), finding articles. Libraries are collaborating with their communities in new and innovative ways. Libraries and librarians struggle to find the right messages to demonstrate their value. We’re still working on equality of access to information and advocating for children to have access to librarians in their schools.

My own trajectory in librarianship thus far is not one I could have begun to project then. Work for CPL for 7 months and get a crash course in urban librarianship? Live in La Crosse, WI for 3 years and organize a several hundred person all day knitting event annually? Jump into a medical librarian career and teach dentistry students or write about open access and have regular research meetings with people in other states and countries?

I’ve met and worked with amazing people over that decade as well. Some are friends from those very early days of listservs; others keep showing up all the time. I’ve moved from being the newbie at every table to getting to make introductions. More of my friends are moving into management positions. Twitter and Friendfeed are an everyday habit–while I keep pruning the listservs I am still willing to subscribe to (when 3 in 5 messages is an ILL request that blatantly violates the policies of the listserv).

It’s unclear what librarianship will look like in another ten years. I don’t expect libraries to disappear nor do I think librarians will be unneeded, but I do expect a lot more change. While I assume now that I’ll still be in library-work of some sort, I assumed 10 years ago that I’d still be in New York and we can all see how that worked out.  I have some goals and ideas and am working towards those, and I’m waiting to see what amazing surprises come next.

Ten years down…




Has anyone considered the gift culture of data sharing between academics in terms of it’s effect upon developing a diverse community?

Over break I was working on a literature review. There were several instances where my eyes were crossing from having opened and waded through yet another PDF. The constant supply of tea and having natural  light in my home office helped. But then in conversation with coworkers yesterday, I realized it had sparked the above question.

It’s fairly well known that there are a variety of challenges for women and minorities in academia. A study published in Nature last fall showed that faculty were more likely to respond to requests for mentoring from students who seemed, in email, to be white and male.  Other studies have looked and found disparities with hiring, promotion, salary (both salary dollars and start up funds) offers, mentoring, etc. A new study this morning looks at the web response to those studies, which turned out to be not very surprising.  In libraries, we see a highly disproportionate number of men in management positions, particularly considering that the vast majority of librarians are female, and I know I’m not qualified to address the other diversity challenges in my profession, though I’m very aware of them.

And then from my lit review:

Borgman, Christine L. “The conundrum of sharing research data.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63.6 (2012): 1059-1078.

Borgman gives us a comprehensive look at the various arguments for and the effort that is behind sharing research data, but then turns to the most important motivations, one of which is “To Enable Others to Ask New Questions of Extant Data.” Borgman doesn’t specifically mention a diversity aspect in this section, but focuses on the general public–often not seen as an audience for data. Still, it sparks the question of who are those others.

Wallis, Jillian C., Elizabeth Rolando, and Christine L. Borgman. “If we share data, will anyone use them? Data sharing and reuse in the long tail of science and technology.” PloS one 8.7 (2013): e67332.

Borgman’s article above gives the justifications of why, but then this article by Wallis, Rolando and Borgman asks the question of will anyone reuse the data. Examining a specific group of researchers, even with some required deposit of data, found willingness to share of “some” data, with many of the usual concerns about not losing their own rights to publication, not getting cited, etc–and actual data sharing to be pretty limited. Interestingly, most said they had been contacted and asked to share their data and had done so, though a quote from one researcher suggests that he would be hesitant if it was perceived that he would then have to answer a lot of further questions. A significant statement from the conclusions:
“Investigators share data with colleagues they know and trust, and when asked to do so. This finding reaffirms the gift culture of scholarship.”  (p. 14)
Kriesberg, Adam; Frank, Rebecca D.; Faniel, Ixchel M.; Yakel, Elizabeth (2013). “The role of data reuse in the apprenticeship process.” Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 50(1): 1-10. <>
Finally, this Kriesberg article looked at zoology, social scientists and archaeologists and resuse of data. This article was particularly interesting to me because it wasn’t medicine or chemistry.  I forget sometimes how big SCIENCE can be. For these fields, data sharing and reuse norms are emerging or changing (as with most fields).  The authors were primarily focused on the relationship of mentors guiding graduate students through the process of accessing data (either their own or from a repository) and how to reuse it.  Kriesberg, et al talk about trust building between mentors and students and how reusing data can lead to a legitizmation of the new researcher.
So, we have cultures of data reuse to get new researchers started, gift cultures of academics who already know each other, and a lot of researchers wondering about if they should share their research, but this all feels still very much within a known Ivory Tower network.  What happens if you don’t have that particularly strong mentor, does the gift culture change if you’re perceived as being “one who will ask more questions” –and are those perceptions tied to perceived race/gender of the person making the request?

How would you study this?

That’s actually probably a bigger question I have.  Asking my coworkers, we talked about citation analysis–though I would argue that only shows where data sharing has been successful, not where the potential gift culture wasn’t.  One could, perhaps, interview researchers or set up some kind of thing like the Nature paper–> sending a request for data using names that appeared to be of a specific gender or ethnicity and evaluating based upon response. My guess is there would need to be some serious network/systems analysis and probably interviews or focus groups on both sides: data sharers to parse out how they might respond to a request and from those requesting to see if they perceive that they wouldn’t get data or hadn’t gotten data due to a bias.

I think this could be one of the arguments for making your data public. It won’t hold water with a lot of people, but it’s something to consider–> who might need access to your data or have a brilliant idea for reusing your data that might never gain access to it because a) they have to ask or find someone who knows you to ask; b) you may not respond based on personal prejudice against [fill in prejudice here].

If anyone has already sorted this out and I haven’t found the article yet, please put it in the comments.  Also, bravo to the authors of these articles that I could easily find OA options to share! Thank you.