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Received VSA Magazine Today , The Scroll


Dwight Brown
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I don't believe Nathan's answer was tongue and cheek nor is it invalid.  I'm short on time right now so instead of giving a thoughtful response that is specific to this thread I am going to simply cut and paste a reply I made on a similar topic some time ago.

 

"Books are not peer reviewed.  Book chapters in the form of journal articles may be peer reviewed or just reviewed by the editor.  Journal articles are of course peer reviewed.  Reports can have a review process that continues until all stake-holders are convinced that the findings of the report are valid.

 

What does peer reviewed mean?  To me, it is a way of saying that the information is believable.  However, just because a journal article is peer reviewed does not mean the information is either believable or meaningful.  If you are an expert in the subject matter you are able to judge for yourself.  Others will need some form of validation.

 

An example for reports (one of mine actually); if what I write is true the clean up costs will be very high and there may be liabilities (not my problem).  So the report was severely reviewed "in house" before going to the two main stakeholders.  The stakeholders then sent the report to their subject matter experts to validate the findings. If the "experts" are not satisfied, the report comes back to me, or if the "experts" validate the findings then decision makers decide what to do about it. 

 

For a peer reviewed article validation occurs on a couple of levels.  First what is the ranking or impact factor of the journal?  For example, the bar is pretty high to get published in top journals (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine) whereas some will publish complaete garbage (IMO).  Then articles are validated through time based on how often they are cited by other authors.

 

Books have a more fuzzy validation process.  Books are validated over time by the users of the book.  However, communication is often poor among users so the process is slow.  For example, how long did it take before users of Sacconni's book voice doubts on the validity of the varnish chapter.  Having a review article written about a book is a huge step for this book because it's being discussed and the information scrutinized. 

 

No book, report, or article is perfect.  If deficiencies are discovered great!  It gives direction for further research."

 

Cheers,

Jim

 Hi Jim

Prejudiced though I may be, I love the new VSA magazine. It is pleasant to read and also clearly thought provoking. 

 

It is a membership magazine with news and many articles. It has what you need to know about membership and attending the convention. 

 

Many articles are scholarly works from past conventions written by consummate professionals. Some are written as members sharing with other members, so approaches, opinions and expertise vary. There is certainly something for every person who plays, makes, collects, or studies instruments and bows of the violin family. 

 

I am presenting a paper at the next VSA. I am now citing some research done as reported in The Scroll, opus 1, number 1, in some of my conclusions. 

 

It was a lot of work to get the first one done and ready to send  into mailboxes all over the world. Letters to the editor are welcomed. I am certain the next one will be EVEN better because of helpful critiques.

 

Marilyn Wallin

Lincoln, Nebraska

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 Hi Jim

Prejudiced though I may be, I love the new VSA magazine. It is pleasant to read and also clearly thought provoking. 

 

It is a membership magazine with news and many articles. It has what you need to know about membership and attending the convention. 

 

Many articles are scholarly works from past conventions written by consummate professionals. Some are written as members sharing with other members, so approaches, opinions and expertise vary. There is certainly something for every person who plays, makes, collects, or studies instruments and bows of the violin family. 

 

I am presenting a paper at the next VSA. I am now citing some research done as reported in The Scroll, opus 1, number 1, in some of my conclusions. 

 

It was a lot of work to get the first one done and ready to send  into mailboxes all over the world. Letters to the editor are welcomed. I am certain the next one will be EVEN better because of helpful critiques.

 

Marilyn Wallin

Lincoln, Nebraska

 

Marilyn,

Speaking as one who allowed their VSA membership to lapse because of the abandonment of VSA publications, do you know if there will be any outreach to lapsed members announcing this new publication? If it is as good as everyone says, it would certainly encouragement me to join again.

Are you able to disclose the distribution numbers?

 

Glenn

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 Hi Jim

Prejudiced though I may be, I love the new VSA magazine. It is pleasant to read and also clearly thought provoking. 

 

It is a membership magazine with news and many articles. It has what you need to know about membership and attending the convention. 

 

Many articles are scholarly works from past conventions written by consummate professionals. Some are written as members sharing with other members, so approaches, opinions and expertise vary. There is certainly something for every person who plays, makes, collects, or studies instruments and bows of the violin family. 

 

I am presenting a paper at the next VSA. I am now citing some research done as reported in The Scroll, opus 1, number 1, in some of my conclusions. 

 

It was a lot of work to get the first one done and ready to send  into mailboxes all over the world. Letters to the editor are welcomed. I am certain the next one will be EVEN better because of helpful critiques.

 

Marilyn Wallin

Lincoln, Nebraska

Hi Marilyn,  I'm am enjoying the articles in the magazine as well.  The point I was attempting to make is that the merits of an article are not dependent on whether or not it is peer reviewed, and peer review alone does not guarantee the quality or accuracy of the article.   If an article is thought provoking (which they are) they will be discussed.  The discussion itself will be in part the peer review, or validation, in which the merits of the article is judged.  I was very happy, and surprised, to receive the magazine and I thank all those that put forth the tremendous amount of work it takes to get a magazine off the ground.  

 

Cheers,

Jim 

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The point I was attempting to make is that the merits of an article are not dependent on whether or not it is peer reviewed, and peer review alone does not guarantee the quality or accuracy of the article. 

 

But don't forget that one of the articles was about a repair process that was questioned.

 

Whilst valuable, a discussion in a forum that is not identified in the magazine as pertaining to an article would mean that there might be folks who are completely unaware of it.

 

If you want a striking example of the impact of 'temporal disconnect', just look out for all the questions that keep being asked that have been answered many times in the Maestronet archives.

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Letters to the editor are welcomed. I am certain the next one will be EVEN better because of helpful critiques.

 

 

Good, appropriate, and (IMHO) correct attitude.  I hope you're correct about the future.

 

I did indeed send an email to a board member involved with the magazine with some suggestions/feedback. I do feel that some of the articles would benefit by the development a basic criteria for their selection and presentaion.

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My comment about peer review was not a joke. Unlike selected membership professional groups the VSA has always included people of varying skills and experience. Presentations at meetings and in their publications must be received with that understanding and even the one's that might be perceived as "crackpot" can provoke interesting discussion and thought. I am not sure what Jerry is referring to in his criticism of patch technique but think there are some photos that have possibly been taken to show some aspects of what was being done and are not exactly the set up as normally employed. If that is so I would suggest making that clear in the photo caption.  

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What exactly was found lacking in the Bass repair? There were a lot of cleats and edging and I need to read it a couple more times.

 

 

DLB

 

From my point of view, there are some concerns with the basic woodworking/method/procedures employed.  Maybe not details a layman would pick up, and maybe there is a tendency to let the repair level slide a little when the object is a bass.

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I saw one article that had monumentally poor technique on soundpost patches.

 

I haven't read the article yet, but it seems like any resources that I find on bass repair have some red flags that make me wonder whether I should use them as a reference.  Perhaps bass luthiers have a hard time charging for the labor to hold the standard quite as high as we do on other instruments?  I've been forced to work on basses quite a bit lately, and it's been pretty hard to find a resource that I hold in high esteem.

 

At a quick skim I like where they're going with the new magazine.  I'll be interested to see how it develops over time.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Marilyn,

 

My thanks to all involved at the VSA for The Scroll. I was very interested to learn of this publication as a member benefit, particularly as I was  locked out of the VSA Archive at Tarisio for a number of weeks this June due to some computer/membership changeover (?). I even wrote Tarisio sarcastically inquiring if Mrs. Clinton had somehow managed to delete the Archive. Apparently, you now have to use your membership number and password after first signing into Tarisio.

 

As for the format, I find it pleasing and easy to read, though I'm torn between the single column format used and (I think) the more readable double column. It is also attractive without being overdone (viz., heavy, glossy paper), so I think it's a very responsible use of member resources.

 

The selection of articles offered something for everyone. I particularly found Andrew Dipper's article on George Craske (The English Stradivarius: George Craske, 1795-1888) interesting, and an excellent introduction to those unfamiliar with his work. I also saw Mr. Pickering's famous quote about copying in Christina Linsenmeyer's article ("What we are doing is copying, and a copy is not an original...."), and I think this would make an excellent basis for a future article— albeit on a subject sure to be hotly debated.

 

However, I write mainly to thank you and those involved for having the courage to print articles without "peer review," to use that insufferably smug expression, which in my opinion has become code for genteel censorship, a mechanism used to stifle novel, "unacceptable," or contrarian interpretations, theories, practices, procedures and processes running counter to those which an established clique has presumed to impose in order to guide an intellectual discipline, science, or profession by enforced conformity.

 

Lastly, I don't know what the VSA's complementary copy policy is aside from hoping that it is very, very limited, as this is how many an otherwise viable publication becomes unsustainable. Regardless, you may wish to attract some attention by sending out gratis copies to some select group of elites; I suggest the wrapper have a label  with "A Complementary Copy for You to Sneer at" or something similar. In short, whining, complaining and dissatisfaction from that group will tell you that you're on the right track to publishing something useful which the ordinary luthier and enthusiast can actually find illuminating.

 

This doesn't preclude legitimate differences of opinion, corrections, and suggestions offered in the spirit of helpfulness.

 

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

P.S.: Dwight, I was pleased to see the photos of your interesting, beautiful new viola. I found your next Dilworth commission at the Met: the Stainer (ca. 1660) viola which has managed to evade the saw for over 350 years. (Note: the Met photos are superb: you can zoom in and fill your screen with a small section at a time. Of course, don't forget to eyeball the Strads, Amatis, etc. also in their collection.)

 

http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/624385

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Dave

 

 

 

 

P.S.: Dwight, I was pleased to see the photos of your interesting, beautiful new viola. I found your next Dilworth commission at the Met: the Stainer (ca. 1660) viola which has managed to evade the saw for over 350 years. (Note: the Met photos are superb: you can zoom in and fill your screen with a small section at a time. Of course, don't forget to eyeball the Strads, Amatis, etc. also in their collection.)

 

http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/624385

 

 

I love the pictures.  The Stainer viola is beyond exquisite! Maybe scaled down to 407mm it would be lovely.    The Granchino VdA is super as well.

 

Thanks,

 

DLB

 

The Dilworth Linarol viola is one of those rare instruments that puts out a great deal more power than you put in.

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Wellllllll. I did used to have a fun 1972 240Z with triple webers but this was a 2013 Nissan 370Z Touring-Sport, A bit more modern and a lot more potent, but maybe not as much fun.  This time of year the air conditioning is very welcome though.

 

DLB

Admit it, Dwight.  We DID spend more time getting to and from lunch in your hotrod than we did actually setting up your Dilworth. ;)

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Bass Article in The Scroll

Scary looking cast making process

Cast too small and thin

Bass not clamped to cast while fitting patch? Is he working in the cast at all?

No cleats around patch

Potential over clamping?

Blue chalk

Cleats lining up rather than staggered

Patch shape

Separating membrane?

Insufficient patch depth

Chrome glue?

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So no peer review.

 

And no 'Letters' section to allow counterpoint views or endorsements.

Letters from the readership will absolutely be published. Please write them. This is not a peer-reviewed journal. This is a magazine. An industry rag. We have to have a little perspective about the role and responsibility of media and publications. The VSA Papers still exist, and will still come out, and be peer reviewed. The Scroll is not the VSA Papers.

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I think it's clear that you have a better process to offer! Please do.

These minor points were meant as a counterpoint to Alchemia Succini's comment:

"However, I write mainly to thank you and those involved for having the courage to print articles without "peer review," to use that insufferably smug expression, which in my opinion has become code for genteel censorship, a mechanism used to stifle novel, "unacceptable," or contrarian interpretations, theories, practices, procedures and processes running counter to those which an established clique has presumed to impose in order to guide an intellectual discipline, science, or profession by enforced conformity."

Using poor technique to do questionable work is not some sort of "rage against the man", it is simply using poor technique to do questionable work. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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Hey Chris;

 

I'm afraid I feel I must stick my neck out here in public.

 

My interactions with you indicate that you are quite sincere in welcoming rebuttals or letters.  I think that's great... but (isn't there always a but?), I believe there is a big difference between publishing proceedings (which do not require judgement, as they are... well... proceedings), or a feel good piece about a member or event, and publishing articles of a technical nature.  To be kind, the technical piece you and Jerry are discussing is not simply a case of arguing fine points, but a presentation of restoration techniques that are simply poor procedures from a woodworking and conservation standpoint (which many of us have seen cause problems down the road).

 

I'm absolutely sure you're aware that both Jerry and I are involved with the educational endeavors of the VSA in Oberlin, where you yourself tend to find your way each summer.

 

While I think I understand what David (Alchemia succini) is trying to express by writing "However, I write mainly to thank you and those involved for having the courage to print articles without "peer review,".... etc., in addition to the mention of "The Scroll" as "An industry rag", especially when it contains proceedings, would, I believe, still intimate some responsibility to follow the educational mission of the VSA.  The article in question lacks context for the reader.  For example; If it is true that bass restoration is held to a different standard, it should be mentioned.  If they are to be held to the same standard, we have a problem. 

 

Peer review, or at least some sort of review, need not be (as David put it) a "code for genteel censorship".  The VSA has a good number of members who are recognized experts in a number of disciplines who are capable of adding counterpoint, perspective and/or historical background to any article without hindering the presentation (rather, in many cases, clarifying or enhancing it).  This can be accomplished well before publication, I would imagine in many cases with the transmittal of a PDF and a phone call.  This procedure might also avoid the unintentional appearance of a rebuttal intending to "slam" an author who has gone to the trouble of submitting a piece, opinion or theory.

 

BTW: Jerry; I "think" (or at least hope... I am not sure) that the "chrome glue" mentioned in the article is a hide glue made from chrome-tanned leather.  If so, it's not known for it's strength... which makes me wonder why a technical gel or clarified hide was not used.  I sure hope it's not this stuff: http://chrome.net.in/product/chrome-glue-sticks-15-gms/

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