[OZTL_NET] Harvard System

Barbara Braxton barbara.288 at bigpond.com
Mon Mar 2 16:15:37 AEDT 2015

There is a conversation happening on LM_NET about citing works and this post was sent giving some insight into the origins of referencing.  (I have permission to post it.)  Generally, it has been agreed that students should be able to cite a source from scratch so they think critically about the information they are using and its source but agree that automatic bibliography generators do have their place. I found Marci's information about the use of initials as a disguise for the author's gender really interesting in light of an article I shared with the list the other day... No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer http://oinks.squeetus.com/2015/02/no-boys-allowed-school-visits-as-a-woman-writer.html

This is her post...

"Does the discussion about the value of learning citation styles sound familiar to you? There may be a reason why.

For those of you who do not know the history of APA style, I encourage you to investigate the conflict between Cornell psychologist Edward Titchener and scientific publisher James Cattell. Titchener was angered by Cattell's attempts to enforce standardization of spelling, usage, citation format, and other manuscript assembly procedures (aka "style) because he felt like it stifled his creative expression. Cattell felt that due to the explosion of scientific endeavor and its associated published output, he had to create a consistent format for manuscripts to allow readers to more readily digest the information. This particular battle took place in the early 1900s.

Who else was busy during this time? John Dewey who fought for pragmatism and universality of education and Melvil Dewey who sought to eliminate arbitrary classification to increase access to informational materials. Both of these figures saw industrialism as a force that could flood society with too many products and a blind pursuit of productivity that would force self-enrichment to become secondary. For both Deweys, an overarching theme was harnessing industrialization of liberate information and learning, not allow mechanization to dehumanize citizens. [They differed on some other points, but that's another ramble.]

Eventually Titchener was outvoted and the need to effectively communicate the rising flood of information won out. However, the evolution of APA is even more interesting that the historic battle because this particular citation style reflects the discourse and values of a professional community. For example, APA uses initials for first and middle names because its members feel that introducing full first and middle names can inject a degree of gender and/or ethnic bias in readers' perceptions of a work. Likewise, APA text style promotes sparseness to promote reader objectivity.

It's quite possible that teaching students not just how to cite in APA, MLA, Chicago, or whatever but also what citation styles actually are and why they are important is the truly important lesson. Citation can be an entree into understanding ways of thinking about personal information management for 21st Century Learners. We need to teach our kids to think critically, see patterns, and understand context as well as to quickly solve their immediate problems."

Just a thought.
Marcia A. Mardis
Associate Professor of Information Science Coordinator, Educational Informatics Director, School Library Media Program iSchool at Florida State University USNWR #1 SLM Program 2013-2015 mmardis at fsu.edu<mailto:mmardis at fsu.edu


Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children's Services) 
Dromkeen Librarian's Award 2003
barbara.288 at bigpond.com
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