Keeping ’em honest
Article reporting on new study arguing that – wait for it…. – disciplines with more strict citation conventions tend to be better at providing verifiable evidence for their sources (ok, that’s my take on it at least).
From Inside Higher Ed: ‘through chains of sloppy citations, “academic urban legends” are born.’ The money quote for me:
“Don’t place your readers in the unfortunate or uncomfortable position of having to trust more than they already have to,” Corlett said. “That’s a matter of ethics.”
Fortunately history gets a shout-out for a tradition of citing conscientiously. But that only happens if we keep the (foot)notes! And if we make sure we know the details of a 20-year period before we start making claims about a 500-year period – that whole Country-Years to Pages ratio I talked about before.
And (early modern) historians have another ethical obligation now that most early modern publications are online. There’s really no excuse for the 2 [primary source] cited in [secondary source] citation anymore, unless it’s in a language you don’t read, or in an archival source you don’t have access to.
So be sure to go back to the original, because who knows when the secondary source you’re using is misinterpreting the original, maliciously or otherwise. And use the footnote feature – it’s not like you’ll be using superscript for anything else.