A widespread form of feedback to a junior colleague is what I hereby name "bibliography-dumping."
This is the practice of naming books and articles that you think a junior colleague ought to read, usually in response to hearing about that junior colleague's work. (This occasionally happens with a peer, but it's much more common with a junior colleague or a student.) Sometimes we recommend just one or two books, but all too often it's several. It's an incredibly common practice, and for a long time I've thought nothing of it (an occasionally engaged in it), because I think it's generally well meant.
I've been on the receiving end of many a bibliography dump in the past, of course, especially in grad school. But it's only recently, as a witness to (and occasional inflicter of) bibliography-dumping, that I've started to see it as problematic. It's taken me a little time to figure out why the bibliography-dump isn't necessarily the helpful gesture it's meant to be, but after some pondering, I believe I've detected a reason or two.
When I bibliography-dump, I might think I am saying: "Hey, I am interested in your work; it reminds me of a bunch of things I read! Let me name some! Enthusiasm!"
But the student in question hears: "I, your senior colleague, very strongly suggest that you read ten books only tangentially related to your actual project."
We're nerds; we relate to one another by talking about books. And it's usually in the spirit of bonding that we start naming books that a colleague's work reminded us of. So we're having a good time free-associating about media theory (or whatever) and at the same time patting ourselves on the backs for being so helpful, while our students frantically scribble down the titles we're spouting off.
But let's be real: most of the time, we're not helping. The truth is that it doesn't take that much work to suggest books; suggesting books is basically an associative process. It doesn't require deep engagement in the way that a truly good question does. So when we start naming books, it may be well meant, but it's actually a little insulting if we're doing it in lieu of taking our colleague's argument head on.
Of course, it is helpful to name relevant books. But the operative word there is "relevant." But do I, having just sat through my junior colleague's formal or informal presentation, have a good enough sense of the project to know what's relevant? Related is not the same thing as relevant. It's easy to find books that are related. It's hard to find books that are relevant. And nobody needs help doing their very basic, first-pass, the-keyword-is-in-the-title research. If I think I understand the project well enough to name resources that are relevant, then I should understand it well enough to ask an actual question. So, y'know, I could try that.
I can think of two situations in which the bibliography-dump is actually useful.
1. The person giving the presentation is actively looking for resources on [X]. Sometimes, despite diligence and all our catalogue-fu, it can take a lucky break to strike the article or bibliography that will let you into the world you're looking for. Usually such a need will be made apparent through the use of sentences like "I am looking for resources on [X]." By the way, if there is any feminist scholarship on the creepy oeuvre of Anne Geddes, I wish to enter that dark underworld, so tip me off.
2. You need to save the presenter from ignorance of a resource so foundational that your failure to mention it would be scandalously irresponsible. For instance: someone writing about feminist approaches to objectivity who has never heard of Sandra Harding.
If either of these two situations presents itself, we should go for it. Otherwise, by bibliography-dumping, we are only contributing to student angst and scope creep, while failing to really interrogate the project at hand.