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Citations

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  • Laurence D. Schiller
    ... Greetings Wayne - there is actually a method to citations. As a rule, you do not need to cite commonly understood fact, but you do need to footnote 1)
    Message 1 of 7 , Jan 1, 2005
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      At 6:54 PM +0000 1/1/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      >In a message dated 12/31/2004 7:10:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
      >meheath@... writes:
      >
      >if a reader does not know where a
      >fact/claim/opinion/conclusion came from, the evidence upon which it is
      >based, then that reader has no way to verify the writer's statement; the
      >statement becomes merely an assertion of belief, having no more weight or
      >merit than anyone else's assertion.
      >
      >
      >As an amateur author, I often wondered why so many footnotes and
      >documentation's are needed on topics that are so well known and have
      >been documented
      >hundreds of times in the past already. In reading a book, such as one on the
      >war that we have been studying, how many times do we read each and every
      >footnote or documentation. I can see documenting a statement given
      >by a person,
      >but do we have to document each and every detail on well known battles. I
      >salute those writers that have done so for I know it is laborious to document
      >each and everything, but is it really necessary.
      >
      >JEJ
      >

      Greetings Wayne - there is actually a method to citations. As a rule,
      you do not need to cite commonly understood fact, but you do need to
      footnote 1) other author's ideas, 2) all quotes, 3) more obscure or
      controversial material. The basic idea is that if I have a question
      about where you got something, I ought to be able to discover your
      source. This does not mean every facet about the battle of
      Chickamauga, for example, but if we are talking about Wood's
      coversation with Rosey, then your sources should be cited. It is most
      definitely necessary.

      Best,

      Laurie Schiller
      --
      Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller Civil War First Person Impressions
      Maitre d'Armes William Bradshaw, Co. F 2nd WI
      Head Fencing Coach George Hammitt, Co. H 104th Ill
      Department of History
      Northwestern University
      Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference
      Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association
      Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division
      Lds307@...
      847-491-4654 (Athletics)
      847-467-5344 (History)
      FAX 847-467-1406
      Official Sports site: http://nusports.ocsn.com/
      Student web site: http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/
    • GnrlJEJohnston@aol.com
      In a message dated 1/1/2005 4:21:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, LDS307@northwestern.edu writes: This does not mean every facet about the battle of
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 1, 2005
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        In a message dated 1/1/2005 4:21:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, LDS307@... writes:
        This does not mean every facet about the battle of
        Chickamauga, for example, but if we are talking about Wood's
        coversation with Rosey, then your sources should be cited.
        But this is once again common knowledge as it is in almost every book that depicts the battle of Chickamauga including the OR's    Most of the time, if you go from author to author, the footnotes are usually redundant from one to another.
         
        Wayne
      • Harry Smeltzer
        If the genealogy of the incident (in this case, the conversation) can not be tracked down to a good source through all the different works in which it has been
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 1, 2005
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          If the genealogy of the incident (in this case, the conversation) can not be tracked down to a good source through all the different works in which it has been included, that to me is a pretty serious indictment.

           

          A similar controversy has been a topic of discussion regarding an Eastern theatre battle, where a generally accepted theory regarding a corps commander’s meaning and intent in a very short sentence attributed to him by another in a field dispatch appears to have its origin with the Comte de Paris some years after the end of the war.  The Comte’s statement did not include a source, and he of course was not with the army when the incident occurred.  But this theory has been passed on through the years, even to be included in a recent and best selling history of the battle, and a current magazine article.

           

          Harry

           

          -----Original Message-----
          From: GnrlJEJohnston@... [mailto:GnrlJEJohnston@...]
          Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2005 5:27 PM
          To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Citations

           

          In a message dated 1/1/2005 4:21:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, LDS307@... writes:

          This does not mean every facet about the battle of
          Chickamauga, for example, but if we are talking about Wood's
          coversation with Rosey, then your sources should be cited.

          But this is once again common knowledge as it is in almost every book that depicts the battle of Chickamauga including the OR's    Most of the time, if you go from author to author, the footnotes are usually redundant from one to another.

           

          Wayne

           

        • ron
          Dr. Shiller, I wonder if you would discuss the issue that so many citations are simply other second hand sources. Unless the source is first hand, it seems to
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 1, 2005
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            Dr. Shiller,

            I wonder if you would discuss the issue that so many citations are simply other second hand sources. Unless the source is first hand, it seems to me that, often, we see a fact that is not general knowledge, and the citation is just another second hand source. Is the real purpose here just to make sure that the writer did not make up or plagarize the fact s/he is using? Or is the purpose to verify the truth of the cited statement?

            Incidentally, I was pleased to here your explanation. That is exactly what we teach our students in my school.

            Ron Wright





            ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
            From: "Laurence D. Schiller" <LDS307@...>
            Reply-To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005 15:22:16 -0600

            >
            ><html><body>
            >
            >
            >
            ><tt>
            >At 6:54 PM +0000 1/1/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:<BR>
            >>In a message dated 12/31/2004 7:10:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, <BR>
            >>meheath@... writes:<BR>
            >><BR>
            >>if a  reader does not know where a<BR>
            >>fact/claim/opinion/conclusion came from, the  evidence upon which it is<BR>
            >>based, then that reader has no way to verify the  writer's statement; the<BR>
            >>statement becomes merely an assertion of belief,  having no more weight or<BR>
            >>merit than anyone else's  assertion.<BR>
            >><BR>
            >><BR>
            >>As an amateur author, I often wondered why so many footnotes and <BR>
            >>documentation's are needed on topics that are so well known and have <BR>
            >>been  documented<BR>
            >>hundreds of times in the past already.  In reading a book, such  as one on the<BR>
            >>war that we have been studying, how many times do we read each and  every<BR>
            >>footnote or documentation.  I can see documenting a statement given <BR>
            >>by a person,<BR>
            >>but do we have to document each and every detail on well known  battles.  I<BR>
            >>salute those writers that have done so for I know it is  laborious to document<BR>
            >>each and everything, but is it really necessary.<BR>
            >><BR>
            >>JEJ<BR>
            >><BR>
            ><BR>
            >Greetings Wayne - there is actually a method to citations. As a rule, <BR>
            >you do not need to cite commonly understood fact, but you do need to <BR>
            >footnote 1) other author's ideas, 2) all quotes, 3) more obscure or <BR>
            >controversial material. The basic idea is that if I have a question <BR>
            >about where you got something, I ought to be able to discover your <BR>
            >source. This does not mean every facet about the battle of <BR>
            >Chickamauga, for example, but if we are talking about Wood's <BR>
            >coversation with Rosey, then your sources should be cited. It is most <BR>
            >definitely necessary.<BR>
            ><BR>
            >Best,<BR>
            ><BR>
            >Laurie Schiller<BR>
            >-- <BR>
            >Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller            Civil War First Person Impressions<BR>
            >Maitre d'Armes                        William Bradshaw, Co. F 2nd WI<BR>
            >Head Fencing Coach                  George Hammitt, Co. H 104th Ill<BR>
            >Department of History<BR>
            >Northwestern University<BR>
            >Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference<BR>
            >Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association<BR>
            >Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division<BR>
            >Lds307@...<BR>
            >847-491-4654 (Athletics)<BR>
            >847-467-5344 (History)<BR>
            >FAX 847-467-1406<BR>
            >Official Sports site: <a href="http://nusports.ocsn.com/">http://nusports.ocsn.com/</a><BR>
            >Student web site: <a href="http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/">http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/</a><BR>
            ></tt>
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            >
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          • DPowell334@AOL.COM
            In a message dated 1/1/2005 11:03:24 PM Central Standard Time, ... I wanted to comment on this, as well. There is a real danger in failing to cite a secondary
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 2, 2005
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              In a message dated 1/1/2005 11:03:24 PM Central Standard Time, ron@... writes:


              I wonder if you would discuss the issue that so many citations are simply other second hand sources.  Unless the source is first hand, it seems to me that, often, we see a fact that is not general knowledge, and the citation is just another second hand source.  Is the real purpose here just to make sure that the writer did not make up or plagarize the fact s/he is using?  Or is the purpose to verify the truth of the cited statement?




              I wanted to comment on this, as well. There is a real danger in failing to cite a secondary source if that source is providing you a concept or line of reasoning that you use. In essence, without a cite, you are taking credit (intentional or unintentional) for another person's ideas. I can see where a historian would want to make sure that his readers understand that he is using another historians work here.

              Remember what has happened to a number of very famous authors in recent years concerning plaigerism charges - Stephen Ambrose, Doris Kearns Godwin, Joseph Ellis, etc. All of them stumbled (or their Research assistants/associate writers stumbled, but since their names are on the final product, they take the heat) because of very sloppy (to say the least) use of quotes and citations.

              Dave Powell
            • Laurence D. Schiller
              ... Oh - I m with you there 100%. I can t stand the catchall citations because, as you say, you don t know what came from what! Best, laurie Schiller -- Dr.
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 2, 2005
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                At 7:58 PM +0000 1/2/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:
                >Laurie,
                >
                >As long as it leads to the sources, I agree. But the current trend to use
                >poorly constructed citations (one footnote for several paragraphs, including
                >several sources) really makes it tough to employ this method with any
                >confidence.
                >
                >Harry

                Oh - I'm with you there 100%. I can't stand the catchall citations
                because, as you say, you don't know what came from what!

                Best,

                laurie Schiller
                --
                Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller Civil War First Person Impressions
                Maitre d'Armes William Bradshaw, Co. F 2nd WI
                Head Fencing Coach George Hammitt, Co. H 104th Ill
                Department of History
                Northwestern University
                Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference
                Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association
                Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division
                Lds307@...
                847-491-4654 (Athletics)
                847-467-5344 (History)
                FAX 847-467-1406
                Official Sports site: http://nusports.ocsn.com/
                Student web site: http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/
              • josepharose
                ... rule, ... to ... or ... question ... most ... Dr. Schiller: Off the top of my head, I would submit that a secondary source, such as Mr. Foote s trilogy,
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 2, 2005
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                  > Greetings Wayne - there is actually a method to citations. As a
                  rule,
                  > you do not need to cite commonly understood fact, but you do need
                  to
                  > footnote 1) other author's ideas, 2) all quotes, 3) more obscure
                  or
                  > controversial material. The basic idea is that if I have a
                  question
                  > about where you got something, I ought to be able to discover your
                  > source. This does not mean every facet about the battle of
                  > Chickamauga, for example, but if we are talking about Wood's
                  > coversation with Rosey, then your sources should be cited. It is
                  most
                  > definitely necessary.
                  >
                  > Best,
                  >
                  > Laurie Schiller


                  Dr. Schiller:

                  Off the top of my head, I would submit that a secondary source, such
                  as Mr. Foote's trilogy, should not generally be cited in support of
                  an author's factual assertion (although Herodotus and others of such
                  a time and place would probably be more appropriate exceptions), but
                  that Foote should be cited if his views on a particular issue are
                  being used by the author. One caveat, however, is that there should
                  be sufficient reason to accept his views on that issue and it is not
                  merely an appeal to authority.

                  Even citations of primary sources can be problematic when that
                  source is unreliable. Byers' account of Sherman at Chattanooga
                  indicated that the Confederates charged out of the railroad tunnel
                  to outflank the Federals, as well as including the incorrect
                  description of heavy fighting on the 24th. This latter
                  misconception was picked up by other writers including Catton (who
                  seems to have picked it up secondhand). Other primary accounts have
                  been misread, so that the citation is correct, but the author's
                  statement is still wrong; Grant's supposed questioning of Granger on
                  Orchard Knob on the afternoon of 11/25/63 is a fine example of this
                  (also misused by Catton). Some errors, such as this last, get
                  handed down from author to author until it appears as part of
                  history.

                  Placement of citations is usually either done at the end of the
                  sentence or saved for the end of the paragraph. I can see where the
                  latter can be useful when the citation applies to the whole
                  paragraph, although the former method is more helpful. Are there
                  any hard and fast rules on this, and can the two types by used in
                  the same work?

                  I can also see where it would be unreasonable to use a citation in
                  places where a very large number of sources would be necessary to
                  back up a particular assertion, such as the feelings of soldiers
                  after a battle; one source wouldn't prove anything and fifty
                  accounts might be needed to provide a decent sampling of opinion.
                  Would you cite all or none of these sources, or let the footnote
                  give a summary of what the sources show? No footnote at all may
                  mislead the reader to believe that the original assertion is
                  unsupported.

                  Joseph
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