26 June 2013

How We Cite on Rootdig; Why It's Not Called the Edicts of Evidence Explained and Why EE Is a Text

I'm a strong believer in citations and in my work (and in Casefile Clues) I cite material in the spirit of Evidence Explained. Here on the Rootdig blog, I have a different philosophy. Posts made here have enough information that the reader could locate where the material was obtained. I realize that others believe that citations on blog posts should be similar to citations used in the spirit of Evidence Explained in order to provide a model for blog readers. They are entitled to their opinion, but at the end of the day their names are not on this blog.

Those who have read Evidence Explained know that citations are basically done for two reasons: getting to the source that was used and assisting in the evaluation of the source that was used. That point is made several times throughout the text of the citation guide. It really is about the analysis of the material being cited.

And the guide is meant to be a guide (it's not called the Edicts of Evidence Explained for a reason). Elizabeth Shown Mills will tell you that the book is a guide (or at least I'm pretty certain she will say that). She'll also tell you (or at least she said it in her class at IGHR) that there are some basic types of records experienced researchers should know how to cite from memory.

I'm not expecting readers of this blog to be able to do that. I have to look things up myself from time to time. I can't always remember where my car keys are.

I try and make this blog as engaging as possible. Formal citations do put a few people "off" and I try and be as inviting on this blog as possible. Readers who really want to see the original document can ascertain that information by actually reading the entire blog post. If there's a legitimate detail missing to the post, I'll add it. Most readers probably are not all that interested in seeing the original--our posts here tend to explain briefly how to obtain, use, and interpret a specific record. We also, in the text of our posts, discuss the importance of knowing what source is being used--usually through pitfalls one can fall into when analysis is superficial. More details about many of these records are often explained in the newsletter--where we do cite everything completely and accurately.

That analysis emphasizes the importance of citation--and that's one of the goals of this blog. Those who want to learn how to craft citations accurately and completely should check out Evidence Explained. My copy is getting worn--and I do prefer the actual print form to the electronic format. Don't try and convince me to give it up. I won't.

Some of my colleagues would cringe at the thought, but my copy has writing all over it. I view Evidence Explained as a textbook--one to be used and "marking it up" is one way that I use it and learn from it.

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