Reading Steve Lawson's recent comment about conference presentations describing projects that didn't work in his See Also post How we done it...bad got me thinking. (The site is not responding for me today, so here is an an alternative Feedburner feed.)
I wonder if the relatively low number of "how we done it bad" presentations is a problem with the conference abstract review process. How many potential "how we done it bad" presentations are left as abstracts on the cutting room floor? Do conference planners select those abstracts that support their perspectives, or, are they so overly concerned than attendees walk away with a positive feeling that they filter out the "how we done it bad"?
On a related note, last year Rick Anderson (a fellow LJ Mover & Shaker 'rebel' class of '05 ) put out a call for such articles for a column in the publication Against the Grain . Yet, a recent review of the table of contents reveals that the column has yet to run. Is the column still in the cue or did the call not receive any response?
Could all of this (gulp) potentially indicate that there may be a more systematic bias in the library profession towards reporting only favorable outcomes? Are unsuccessful projects being modified in mid-stream to create positive outcomes in order to not look incompetent? Are only the successful aspects of an unsuccessful project being communicated? Or, even worse yet, are unsuccessful projects are being spun as being successful?
Just as studying diseases helps health care professionals understand how to nurture good health behaviors, understanding our failures can provide libraries with new understanding. Unsuccessful projects provide an opportunity to learn from mistakes and minimize the risk of making similar mistakes. Disseminating all outcomes is a key to our continued survival and evolution.
Sphere: Related Content