I can’t read everything, even in the subfields of my particular interests. If someone asks me if I’ve read a particular piece, chances are the answer is either “no” or “I have no idea.” In other words, it’s very hard for a piece to stick in my memory because there are so, so many. I say this because this essay here is entirely subjective, and intentionally so.
When I think about what articles stick to my ribs, so to speak, and the type of scholarship and public engagement in which I hope to participate and that I would like to encourage in my colleagues and compatriots, I have begun to codify (though not quantify) my interests along three different scales.
I hope to read, share, and create, SIC scholarship.
S(trong), I(mportant), and C(ompelling).
Strong is the most traditional aspect of it, the scholarly rigor. Basically, peer-reviewed, though I know this excludes some valuable work. This is what I need to continue to learn about in my methods classes and my other coursework. I don’t know that I agree with the way rigor is defined, and it’s surely used as a gatekeeping tool, but if I’m going to cite something and it’s going to be criticized for relying on something not considered rigorous, then I should be aware ahead of time. For my own reading, I don’t care as much, but especially while I’m in school and soon after, I am mostly reading articles so I can turn around and write. So, yeah, it needs to be strong for me to rely on it, even though I think the journal system is a mess and so are conferences. I can’t exist fully outside of the system just yet.
Important is purely subjective, of course, but to me, it means two main things. It’s important to me if it’s related to my subfields, sure, because I can use it, but it’s also important to me if it seeks to challenge oppression, dominance, white supremacy, etc. This is mostly about the goal of the study or the article. Articles that reify power structures just aren’t important to me, aside from their roles as counterexamples of what I would not like to consume or produce.
And for me, I hope to consume and create work that is Compelling. This is purely about the way people write (or otherwise express themselves). This is what journals really stifle, and if an author can force precise prose into their published piece, it can totally sing. I will cite a piece that’s important and/or strong, usually looking at the findings, but when the introduction or “discussion” sections are particularly compelling, that’s when I hold articles close to my chest.
I think if more of us strove for these qualities, our work would be much better. Imagine if it wasn’t unusual to challenge oppression in our work. Imagine if reading most journals wasn’t dull. Imagine!
This is just a silly idea, but I think it’s a fun concept, and I’m going to hold onto it.