SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 1 Contents Letters to the Editor

In the SG-Matrix, There Is No Chaff
Why Author-Level Metrics Are Inadequate

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

I must apologize for inadvertently airing a bit of SpecGram-internal dirty laundry in the last issue, specifically in the article, “The sg-index: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff”, prepared by the (now former) SpecGram Data Science Interns. As it was time for decennial performance reviews, the HR department, in the personage of Herr Bestrafung, did in fact request a ranking of performance of various and sundry contributors over the last decade. And while it was a fine and dandy ranking algorithm, and its results were provided, the Data Science Interns made a number of mistakes.

Steve Farrow, 1994, “The Nature of Syntax and the Syntax of Nature”, Language and Communication 14:3.

Chiasmus of the Month
September 2016

First, they decided to editorialize about the various rankees, and they compounded that mistake by doing it in writing. Their comments were generally bitterwhich is understandable given that they are, at best, unpaid; a few are indentured for maximum efficiency, where local law allows. Their second mistake was to transmit the annotated copy rather than a pristine copy of their scores and rankings. Their final, fatal error was to use the wrong combination of carrier pigeons, pneumatic tubes, and skywriting to submit the report, so that it went to the publishing department rather than to HR. They appear to have recognized this final error, as the transmission was interrupted mid-streambut it was too little, too late.

The publishing department did a fine job transcribing and formatting the report and comments, for which they are to be commended. However, they could have used a bit more critical thinking, and taken steps to verify the report was intended for publication. There have been token floggings.

The (now former) SpecGram Data Science Interns have all been flogged to the limit allowed by their internship contracts (i.e., some are still being flogged hourly), and all have been demoted to Sacrificial Interns (should tea leaves fail to be sufficiently revelatory, as is the traditional manner).

To our valued contributors and editors, we apologize again. Your next pay packet will include a voucher for an all-expenses-paid trip to the SpecGram Flogatorium, where you can flog interns to your heart’s content. Without you, there would be no SpecGram, so please accept this small token of our appreciation and gratitude.

To academia at large, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight the absurdity of author-level metrics whichas this unfortunate case illustrates so wellonly cause intellectual discomfort and social awkwardness among authors, and potential rotator cuff injuries among our professional flogging staff.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 1 Contents