Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog-Jacking: The Bennington Banner

Writer Shows Importance of Documents
Written by Stephanie Ryan
Originally published: 08/04/2008

Footnotes.Bibliographies. Scribbles in the margins. How do we show how we know what we know?

Robert Hauptman's new book, "Documentation: A History and Critique of Attribution, Commentary, Glosses, Marginalia, Notes, bibliographies, Works-Cited Lists, and Citation Indexing andAnalysis," attempts to answer thatquestion, through an examination of the history of the art of documentation and a critique of the major systems thereof.

"I've always been interested in the ways scholars document," said Hauptman, a professor emeritus of St. Cloud State University and the editor of the "Journal of Information Ethics." "There's nothing more important than documenting your sources."

Acknowledging that documentation is an esoteric subject,Hauptman, 67, retired, and a resident of West Wardsboro, said, "One day, I decided that no-one has ever done it, so I decided to do it." The result is a 200-plus page volume, illustrated with numerous examples of footnotes, endnotes, commentary and marginalia, describing how various forms of documentation are used, critiquing the various systems, and even tackling errors and misconduct. And the book takes — and demonstrates — a stand for illustrations as a legitimate subset of documentation in their own right. "We'll see what the critics say," Hauptman said, smiling.

"I also criticize, pretty blatantly, indexing — using citations to assess and evaluate" articles," Hauptman said. He described the process of publishing an article and having that article cited repeatedly in other publications as having what the academic world calls an "impact factor," and said the impact factor is often used in an unfair way. In Spain and in China, raises and bonuses can hang on an article's impact factor. Here, frequently cited writers find themselves rewarded with tenure. "People tend to work toward a high impact factor, instead of a cure."
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