How to get away with murder(-ing your academic journals)

After the cull, this is the half-foot stack that remains.

Last night I took a knife to the spine of 28 academic journals…and scissors to half a dozen academic magazines.

I felt like a murderer as I culled article after article with seemingly reckless abandon. My unsympathetic eyes skimmed abstracts in mere seconds as my brain made quick decisions as to what was worthwhile. If it didn’t say one of the “magic words,” it perished. If it was too tangential to my research topic, away it went.

In the end all that remained was a mere 5 inches of articles and book reviews. Each of the remaining articles received delicate treatment with staples along the edges to keep them tidy. A few journals even retained their covers, as they were special issues and it made more sense to cut out what wasn’t needed than what was.

Part of me felt like preserving the covers and spines was a mistake. I wondered if a paper guillotine would do the trick. My husband tempered my murderous streak by reminding me it was bedtime; so for now, the covers live for another day.

As this week goes on, I’m curious how many of those delicately bound articles will remain. As of today, a dozen or so book reviews joined their brethren in a shallow grave recycle bin.

So far, the mission has been successful, albeit ruthless. I am reading. I am making notes. And all the while, that stack of journals is transforming from a pile of guilt into a useful set of notes and ideas.

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