What I learned from the peer review process

25/05/2012 § 10 Comments

CC image by Nic McPhee

Back in March 2011, Micah wrote a post on the need for LIS students to foster a culture of writing and sharing.  I followed his advice (as it has yet to lead me astray!), and this past semester I started as a Content Editor of San Jose State University’s SLIS Student Research Journal (SRJ).  I also submitted a paper I wrote in the fall semester to Library Student Journal (LSJ), which has been accepted for publication.  Both experiences, as a reviewer and reviewee, have been great — so I thought I’d share a little bit about them.

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Tips for your job or internship application

16/03/2012 § 18 Comments

CC image by isabisa on flickr

To follow up on Ashley’s post earlier this week on advice from a hiring manager, I thought I’d share my own perspective.  I recently served on a search committee for a tenure-track academic librarian position and reviewed applications for a paid (!) summer archival internship.  Nothing I’m going to share in this post is groundbreaking, but I just want to reiterate some key points to keep in mind when sending in applications for jobs and internships.

1.  I really appreciate when your file names include your full name and what type of document (resume, cover letter) it is.  While a file that’s named after the place you’re applying to is helpful for your own reference, it’s not helpful for mine.

2.  This is definitely a personal preference, but I really love when application materials are sent as .pdf files.  Never trust Microsoft Word to keep your formatting true.  You also take the risk of leaving track changes on (oh, it’s happened — and yes, it looks bad).

3.  One way I can tell if you’re detail-oriented is if you actually send in everything that’s asked for.  If the job/internship posting asks for your availability, be sure to include it.

1.  Tailor your cover letter.  Show that you looked at the organization’s website and know something about it, and specify why you want to work there.  You will especially stand out if you discuss why you are interested in performing the type of work explicitly listed in the job description.  If you talk about how you’d love to learn about digitization when it’s not described in the position description at all, it’s a clear giveaway that you didn’t read it thoroughly — or that you’re just recycling an old cover letter without much editing.  Oftentimes, I’ll see a resume that looks good but change my mind after reading the cover letter.

2.  Think of your cover letter as exclusive from the resume.  Please don’t just repeat what’s on your resume, but really explain why your past experience is relevant to the position.

3.  Write clearly in your cover letter.  If I need to read a sentence multiple times to understand it, you’ll stand out for the wrong reasons.  One sentence does not need to take up five lines.

Of course, most of these are just my personal preferences.  Be sure to check out the blog Hiring Librarians, which provides many different perspectives from hiring managers on what they look for in a candidate, and Open Cover Letters, which publishes cover letters from librarians and archivists who got hired.

Questioning the Final Research Paper

16/01/2012 § 20 Comments

CC image courtesy of Shht! on Flickr

Before the new semester starts, I’d like to address the academic tradition of the “final paper.”  I don’t understand why so many professors assign research papers as a final assignment.  Research papers are difficult to execute well when under a severe time constraint, especially when most of the knowledge you’re pulling together, synthesizing, and analyzing may not be taught until a couple weeks before the paper is due — or the external research has to be performed on top of keeping up with other heavy assignments.  What generally results is not great research or writing.

How can students be expected to write good research papers given that they haven’t learned all the course material yet?  And if we don’t need to learn the course material to write the paper, what’s the point of writing it?  The whole process is quite frustrating to me because I don’t understand the reasoning.  Do professors really expect us to work on the research paper throughout the entire semester?  If they do, why don’t they assign more relevant material each week that would support it?  I often feel like I don’t actually write high-quality research papers, yet I still get rewarded with an A grade.  It doesn’t help me in the long run if I think my research papers are great when they’re actually not.

Say what? Things I haven’t learned in library school

07/11/2011 § 27 Comments

I’m halfway through my MLIS program, yet there are still countless words and concepts that I’m not confident I actually understand.  I feel like a fundamental vocabulary lesson is missing from most of my core intro classes — and I don’t think it’s all going be covered by the time I graduate.  There are all these acronyms and buzzwords in libraryland, and while I might know what subject they’re related to, I have no idea what exactly they mean.  Is that acronym a standard, a guideline?  What words are interchangeable, and what words aren’t?

For example, none of my core classes actually explained the difference between a library and archive.  Since I’m focusing on archives, I can tell you the difference — but how many non-archives students can?

So let’s help each other out!  What fundamental vocabulary words are missing from your classes?  Ask in the comments, and hopefully someone else will answer.  Do your part and answer someone else’s question too.

I’ll start — is there a difference between a persistent identifier and a digital object identifier?  Digital curation and data curation?

Unbook Unreview: The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential

19/09/2011 § 1 Comment

Download the book or read it on Scribd.

Available in a multitude of formats (.mobi, .epub, .pdf, .rtf, and more!), this free ebook is written by Fast Company writer Anya Kamenetz with support from the Gates Foundation.  The book is based on the premise that the traditional process of attending college is expensive and exclusive — but more importantly, the way education is being delivered is changing.  The purpose of this book is to provide you with resources that give you control over your education.

Now I haven’t read the entire book from cover to cover, but I don’t think you’re supposed to!  The “How to use the Edupunks’ Guide” section helps you figure out what you want to learn from the book — do you want to learn about online programs?  Are you interested in alternative college programs that help you earn a degree faster?  Or do you just want to find free, open sources of educational content?

Personally, I’m most interested in the last section of the book — “Open World” — that lists where you can find open educational content, social learning websites, and reputation-based networks.  For example, I’ve known about MIT Open Courseware for a while but had no idea that there is an open courseware consortium.  I also didn’t know about the web development resources named in the book.

The Edupunks’ Guide is definitely worth checking out if you’re an independent self-learner or just interested in exploring the free online resources out there.

Are you an edupunk?  What open content resources do you use or know of?

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