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The Scholarly Apparatus: When Should It Be There? by Harrison Eiteljorg, II
This comment was made by Dean Snow and posted on April 30, 2010.
The bottom line from my perspective is that when in doubt authorship should be attributed and clear citation should be possible, regardless of the nature of the document (electronic text, database, GIS layer, image, whatever). One ought to be able to cite, say, a database with clear attribution of authorship and a clear and easy way for someone to find the version cited. (A URL and a date do not suffice for this purpose.) That means that in the case of living documents and databases that might be in a nearly continuous state of growth or editorial modification the author(s) will have to freeze them periodically and give them version names, much as books may have multiple editions. What's so hard about that? Keith Kintigh and Frank McManamon are figuring out how to do this with things archived by Digital Antiquity. Seems to me that the worst that can happen is that stuff will get ignored and thus not cited, but that is (or should be) the case with a large fraction of traditional publications already. Anyway, this is a big issue, I think, but one that has some clear solutions that will be a boon to researchers.
This comment was made by Kazimierz Lewartowski and posted on May 3, 2010.
I fully agree with Dean Snow's comments. I want to emphasize even more the time element - when reading most pages we have no idea about the validity of their content and its changes. One solution was proposed by Dean Snow, but I am rather pessimistic because it is time-consuming, needs staff responsible for editorial work, and slows down the content evolution. It would be good for larger teams and in case of major changes. Another possible solution is a sub-page with a chronicle of all changes. That is cheaper and easier but less convenient from the users' point of view. We tried this in our handbook of Aegean archaeology and our students find it useful, especially when facing exams.
This comment was made by Eric Kansa and Sarah Whitcher Kansa and posted on May 3, 2010.
Every individual record in OpenContext has a citation. (This has been a priority since the project's inception in late 2006.) These citations are all expressed for use with our underlying software and Zotero, an open source tool for managing bibliographies and references. At the project level, the citation information was in the project's coding but hadn't been "turned on" for humans to read. This was an oversight and we have now turned on the citation information for the project overviews.
[Editor's note: the article has been updated to reflect the OpenContext change.]
This comment was made by Donald Sanders (Learning Sites, Inc.) and posted on May 6, 2010.
There has been more interest lately, in our field of virtual heritage, in the issue of transparency. That is, in guiding the user/viewer through the 3D model and VR creation process so that scholars, students, whoever, will understand how the evidence links to the final 3D models and virtual worlds. Further, there is more tendency now to show what areas in the models are conjecture and what are based directly on the evidence. These are not easy tasks, but guidelines, like the London Charter (www.londoncharter.org) and potentially the upcoming Seville Charter (which will expand on our work in London), will offer more concrete procedures.
Our web site tries to attribute each page and sections of description within each page to rightful authors, whether individuals or companies. We believe that these and other citation and attribution formalities are necessary in scholarship - for the reasons outlined in the article and simply because without them the very nature and fabric of "scholarship" fails.
Websites like the new Unvarnished.com and the innumerable other sites where anonymous or aliased users submit comments have their place (and there have been many pshychological studies on how people rate things and how and why people will say certain things online). What has always set scholarship apart has been the name trail, because history matters and a person's (or web site's) professional credentials are part of the critical analysis process.
Trust is important in writing, photographs, 3D models, and virtual worlds - and web sites.
This comment was made by the original author, Harrison Eiteljorg, II, and posted on May 10, 2010.
I am pleased that those who have thus far taken the trouble to comment on this issue (including Arizona State University Professor Michael E. Smith on his blog at publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com/) have agreed that scholarly material on the web needs attribution, but I did not expect dispute there. I did expect some dispute as to what should be considered scholarly material, and it seems that the respondents have agreed that databases, CAD models, GIS data, and other non-text resources should be attributed. What I have not yet seen -- and was hoping to have -- is any support for leaving some materials without attribution. Since it seems to me that there are kinds of web pages that do not need attribution, I was hoping that there would be some discussion of where we should draw the line between that which requires attribution and that which does not.
Absent suggestions, let me therefore make my own suggestions for that line on attribution to provide a target for respondents.
1. Anything containing data that might be used by another scholar (a database, a model, a text item, a GIS data set, whatever) should have an author or responsible person and date.
2. Any interpretive material should have a name and date if the interpretation(s) arise from the author's own study and are not merely repetition of the work of others.
3. Materials that merely summarize the work of others for the sake of background -- operating something like a Wikipedia article -- surely need no author. I do not think that should be the end of the story, however; I am inclined to think that some indication of the nature of the piece is required to let the reader know what the absence of an author's name means. A general summary may or may not read as if it were only that to a reader, particularly a non-professional one, and it seems to me that the reader should know that the absence of attribution is not simply accidental or a result of sloppiness.
This comment was made by Fred Limp and posted on September 20, 2010.One excellent way to add the scholarly apparatus to web documents is the combination of COinS (ocoins.info) to embed bibliographic metadata in HTML documents and tools like Zotero to extract such information.
For example we have made almost all CAST (Center for Advanced Spatial Technology) web materials COinS compliant and - for Zotero users - it only requires a single click on the COinS icon to "cite" the material and load it into the bibliography.
We also apply Creative Commons 3 licensing to all our work (with some limited exceptions where the sponsor requires other levels).
If more web resources utilized these two system that would "lower the barrier" to the objectives discussed. The questions as to what should (and shouldn't be cited) remain.
This comment was made by the original author, Harrison Eiteljorg, II, and posted on September 20, 2010.
A concern with authorship also surfaced in an August 1, 2010, New York Times article "Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age," by Trip Gabriel. Although the article appeared to be dated in some ways, it seemed noteworthy that it began with a story about a student who used a web source without attribution. He "did not think he needed to credit a source in his assignment because the page did not include author information." The problem of the missing scholarly apparatus is clearly not the only one for students who lift materials from the web. They would not credit Wikipedia any more than they would a web site with information from an archaeological project. However, Wikipedia can be cited; the site even has a citation tool and a page of directions. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_Wikipedia, accessed 09/02/10.) When information is actually supplied by a single person or a group - as is the case for results of an archaeological project, how does one credit their web site if there is no scholarly apparatus? Trying to establish a chain of evidence or argument that involves individual scholars' views and opinions is impossible if the scholars' names are not known.
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