Archive for the ‘authorship’ Category

Who wrote Aristotle? Boyd Rayward, of Course.

As a KO scholar enamored of what domain analysis can reveal, and unphased by the challenge of unindexed source material, I spend way too much time manually indexing things like conference proceedings. This always means reformatting and “cleaning” something like 1200 citations at a pop, to get them into some form that can be manipulated or mined for statistical parameters.

It’s a wonder I don’t get whiplash from all the shaking of my head that goes on during these sessions. Of course, as a journal editor I experience a lot of errant citing practice as well. At least in that case I have the prerogative to require the author to do it over and get it right.

I remember when I was a masters student at Indiana University a zillion years ago; one of my scholarly mentors explained to me how to prepare notes when engaging in literature review. She said, open the book and place it on the table at the right of your typewriter. Put a new sheet of paper in the typewriter and before you do anything else type out the elements of the citation for the book. Then you’ll always have them. And then, as you read along (instead of highlighting or underlining, which not only destroys the text, but which you can never find again anyway) as you come to something interesting type the page number then just type out the text. When you’re finished, you’ve got block quotes or potential paraphrases ready to insert into your analysis, together with the appropriate material for text references. Now, I don’t expect everyone reading this to rush out and buy typewriters, but I do commend the method to you. It has served me well for decades.

What is not appropriate is to just cite willy-nilly to show you did some searching. And what is just plain wrong is to cite from online citations instead of directly from the source material. (Note to authors: we know when you’ve just plopped citations in from citation databases or from software because when we convert your text to edit it all of the citations either disappear, or, they become URLs and we can’t edit without opening hundreds of windows. Don’t do that!)

A key point to keep in mind is that the purpose of a citation is the same as the purpose of a precise methodology and that is replication. Another scholar should be able to follow your path by finding the sources you cite, precisely.

So I won’t tell you what I’ve just been indexing so as not to embarrass anybody (not that you won’t be able to guess), but here are some of the more interesting things I discovered:

§Aristotle. Aristotle is important to knowledge organization, I give you that. But nothing he wrote is likely your actual source. This resource: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.html is cited as:

Aristotle. 1994. Metaphysics, trans. W.D. Ross. The Internet classics archive. Cambridge: MIT.

Why? The date is the date of publication of the resource, not the date of writing. “Aristotle. 350BCE” is not an appropriate reference.

§OCLC is not an author. Well, usually. You don’t have to cite OCLC if all you’ve done is make reference to it in your text. Let’s say you’ve written “Often, in bibliographic utilities like OCLC’s WorldCat, [blah, blah, blah ….].” That does not require a citation in the reference list. What you can do, although even this is not really necessary, is place the URL in parentheses in the text: “Often, in bibliographic utilities like OCLC’s WorldCat (http://www.oclc.org/worldcat.en.html), [blah, blah, blah ….].” Don’t litter your reference list with URLs of websites from which you have not cited or paraphrased. On the other hand, if you are citing something specific, then please follow the general instructions for doing so.

§Reprints should be described using their own details of publication. Here is the classic example from my own writing: Wilson, Patrick. 1978. Two kinds of power: an essay on bibliographical control. Berkeley: UC Press. Reprint of 1968 ed.

§Works by classic authors, contained in anthologies, are described as chapters in the books in which they appear: Otlet, Paul. 1990. The science of bibliography and documentation. In Rayward, W. Boyd, ed., International organisation and dissemination of knowledge: selected essays of Paul Otlet. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 71-86.

(Note, it is very impressive that you know this was written in 1903, but the date for the citation is the date of publication of the resource in which you read the material.)(Note 2, just think how Boyd Rayward, a really nice guy, would feel seeing his name next to a 1903 publication date!)

I’m thinking it would be fun for a doctoral seminar to give them this particular set of citations and give them fifteen minutes to figure out what the real citations should have been so they can actually lay hands on the resource. Hmmmmm.

Advertisements

Flimsy Fabric and Epistemic Presumptions

In two papers on authorship, my colleagues Hur-Li Lee and Hope Olson and I have been working out the intricate relationship between the iconic concept of attribution of responsibility, which seems to be the western notion, and the classificatory pillar, which seems to be the (what shall I say here?) non-western notion (derived in our papers from classic Chinese practice, and from what we can discern from the record of Callimichus).

What we see, however, is that “author,” even (or especially) in Anglo-American cataloging practice, is not about attribution, but about creating an alphabetico-classed arrangement of works. It gives a whole new twist to the concept of classification, but also to the comprehension of what often is called “bibliographic” description, which, it turns out, isn’t.

Here are the citations and the abstracts:

“The Flimsy Fabric of Authorship,” by Richard P. Smiraglia, Hur–‐Li Lee and Hope Olson. In Ménard, Elaine and Nesset, Valerie, eds., Information Science: Synergy through Diversity, Proceedings of the 38th Annual CAIS/ACSI Conference, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. June 2-4 2010. http://www.cais–‐acsi.ca/proceedings/2010/CAIS089_OlsonLeeSmiraglia_Final.pdf

This paper is about authorship, its influence on bibliography and how that influence is reflected in cataloging across cultures. Beginning with Foucault’s question “what is an author”, it proceeds to demonstrate, through an examination of cataloging standards, that it is the role that is represented rather than true intellectual responsibility.

“Epistemic Presumptions of Authorship,” Richard P. Smiraglia, Hur-Li Lee, Hope A. Olson. iConference’11, February 8–11, 2011, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. ACM 1-58113-000-0/00/0010

The major concern of this paper is the cultural ramification of the bibliographic conception of “authorship.” Beginning with Foucault’s question “what is an author” and his notion of an author as a cultural phenomenon, the paper proceeds to examine the treatment of authorship in cataloging practices of two ancient cultures, the Greek and the Chinese, as well as in the modern Anglo-American cataloging standards from Panizzi’s 91 rules to the draft of Resource Description and Access (RDA). An author, as the study shows, is constructed as part of the recognition of “a work” as an essential communicative social entity. All cataloging practices and standards examined, east or west, ancient or modern, exhibit a similar obsessive attitude toward the imposition of an author, be it only a name or a culturally identified entity responsible for the work. In fact, the study demonstrates that as far as cataloging is concerned authorship is the role that is represented rather than any true intellectual responsibility.

A third paper has been accepted for an issue of Library Trends.