What’s that in the road, a head?
Do we use our iPhone to find the Coroner or GoogleMaps?
FootnoteMaven has tossed the ball back into the game and WE’RE TALKING PROPER CITATIONS ON THE BLOGS AGAIN! Thank you, fM, for the heavenly angel badge. (Yes, do see Amy’s Genealogy, Etc. Blog for I Don’t Care Where You Put the Comma).
Ouch! I LOVE commas. ADORE periods. AM TANTALIZED by semi-colons. My background is journalism and literature, and I’ve taught both subjects. My favorite books are dictionaries, style guides, and thesauri.
I’ve probably read (and graded) more English papers than I have names in my family tree. Only a few students truly grasped the concept of correct MLA citation style; many more submitted creative alternatives ranging from 4th grade Bibliography style to APA to very personal renditions of a Works Cited page.
I have a litte theory about this, and it may even have some bearing on citations in genealogy —
Genealogists aren’t all that different from high school English students.To be honest, most of us would rather hunt for ancestors than craft citations.
There’s not much FUN in fundamental citations.
Citation standards can become “counterproductive” to actual research, I agree. It’s hard to keep the train moving when we keep stopping to analyze source citation format as well as source information. But, what would happen if we stopped thinking about our genealogy databases as citation machines a la EasyBib and just considered our databases as a kind of Working Notebook.
I never required students to write a proper MLA citation on their research notecards or notes; it would slow down their research. All they had to do was get enough information to put together a correct MLA citation at a later time. If the student knew enough about MLA to get the author, title, publishing information, etc. they could usually construct the Works Cited page. Some students, however, got a little lazy and only included the journal name, not the article title, or missed the journal volume and number. They were up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Any genealogy database that helps us obtain all the information needed for a correct citation — whatever format that might be — can only help the genealogy researcher. IF I choose to use Evidence Explained style citations, I will need a full data trail for the census I am viewing on Ancestry.com. I appreciate programs like Legacy7 and RootsMagic4 that offer source templates to remind me to include this full source trail. When I use software that only prompts me for Title, Author, Publishing Information, I may forget to include the source of Ancestry’s database. Later, when I go to write a correctly formatted citation for my about-to-be-published article, I find I am missing a crucial piece of the citation puzzle and have to retrace my work. Much better to have all the pieces ready for me to assemble into the full picture.
So, sorry Amy, I do care where you put the comma — in your final paper. But you are so right, genealogy can be a whole lot funner!
Go ahead, cite me!