SHORT STORIES WE SHOULDN'T HEAR
Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Professor of Marketing
Auburn University, Alabama
Some eclectic short stories that shouldn't exist in a world of scholars. But the stories and quotations are true, or so I was told. Names are changed so more people can feel guilty....
Walking out of a less than enlightening conference session, Len mutters to the person next to him that the presentations were among the most idiotic he had ever witnessed. "You're right," Maurice agreed. "I would have said something, but a lot of the people in the audience are potential adopters of my textbook and I didn't want to offend any of them." . . .
A generally positive letter to the authors of a recently-published article in a marketing journal also pointed out a small but significant error in their discussion of the law. With one Federal Appellate Court decision taking a particular view, the authors cited the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari in that case as a statement that the nation's highest court took the same view, too. The letter writer pointed out that this error detracted from the entire article and even the journal: it is basic to the U.S. legal system that denial of certiorari only means that the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and does not provide any legal support or approval of what a lower court decided. The article's authors responded to the letter with a lengthy statement that "No one knows why the Supreme Court denies certiorari" but concludes that "A correction would confuse readers of the journal." . . .
Sometime during the department head job interview, the visitor said, "My faculty will teach what I tell them and when I tell them to do it and they'll learn to use my standards for serving our student customers. If they don't, tenured or not, I'll get rid of them and hire people who will." The dean hired him . . . .
It is not unusual to have research papers rejected, but it was a new experience for the senior faculty member when the decision on her conference paper did not include any substantive negative statements from the reviewers. Reviewer A was not interested in the subject while reviewer B only noted that the paper would be certain to spur a lot of conversation at the conference. The third reviewer focused on the paper's negative statements on the content of books that purported to report the findings of research journals while in fact ignoring them. This reviewer wrote that "You should communicate directly with the authors and not in a conference paper setting." Apparently the conference chair agreed. . . .
The university needed someone with Larry's teaching experience and interests to cover their courses. And after his interview he was their first choice, or so the department chair told him. But when telling Larry he was the first choice, the chair also said that Larry did not get an offer because his research orientation is such that the "behaviorists," which were half of the faculty, did not think that they would be able to do any research with him. The second choice was a behaviorist, but the non-behaviorists objected. As a result, they hired their third choice who had not completed the dissertation and did not appear committed to any research philosophy. Aside from the faculty's search for ideological purity, it should also be noted that the university is a teaching-priority school where faculty output of refereed journals is extremely low and a minor part of job expectations. . . .
The department chair told Pat, "I'm tired of defending your essay exams. The students don't like them and keep coming here to complain. Since you won't stop, I'm assigning you to teach the Principles course. If you want to grade essay exams for 300 students, feel free to do so." . . .
A student and his thesis advisor in New Zealand wanted to replicate a study from Journal of Advertising Research. The U.S.-based senior author readily provided background information and references to other journal articles he wrote, but he withheld key materials and information needed for replication. The New Zealand student had arranged to use local stimulus materials from a planned government-sponsored advertising campaign, but they needed the original questionnaire for a replication and extension. After several e-mail exchanges and puzzling stalls, the advisor put a direct and forceful request to the JAR author. "My co-authors don't want to release it," was the explanation. My countryman's response was disturbing for more than just the obvious reasons because I knew the questionnaire was his design and property. He had already used the questionnaire in other studies by himself or with different co-authors. In the replication-blocked publication, his co-authors were graduate students who provided the grunt work on data collection and analysis and will probably never write in the area again. . . .
The member of the promotion and tenure committee noted that the candidate's articles were all in the best journals, but they were few in number. There was not enough other stuff or "filler" as she called it. Arguing with one of the candidate's supporters, the committee member asserted that "Over 85 percent of my vita is garbage, but that's how you play the game. If you supported her, you should have added her name to a few of your own papers to help build her record. That's what I do for people in my department." . . .
There are more stories, but I wish I didn't even know these.