Periods. Create. A. Full. Stop.

31 August 2014
What does a period say to you when you see one? By common agreement in the language world, a period usually means: Stop. The end. Finis. When we're writing, it means ...

Information Is Not Knowledge

29 August 2014
Contrary to the old cliché, facts do not speak for themselves. Facts are chameleons whose shape and color reflect their handlers. A beginning researcher and a skilled one can read the same information in a record
and draw two separate conclusions, based upon ...

Researching Elusive People

27 August 2014
Biographical research is always a gamble. Our person of interest may or may not have been literate. Among those who were, many created few records to document their existence. The records we expect to find for a place and time will likely have suffered some destruction.

Alphabet Soup: Acronyms & Initialisms

25 August 2014
Is it an acronym or an initialism? Do you know the difference? Does it matter? ...

Giving Credit

23 August 2014
Amazon reviews of a certain book on research methodology contain a cross-fire between the author and someone who claims the author plagiarized his work. The author's defense might be summed up this way ...

Jargon, Shorthand & All Their Ilk

14 August 2014
Researchers are expected to learn the conventions of each area in which they work. They need to learn not only the records, but also the ...

That Wonderful Little Space Saver Called 'Ibid.'

21 August 2014
"Ibid." is a tidy little convention we see in all sorts of published citations—but never, ever, should we use it ...

Proof Arguments

12 August 2014
Proof is not a document. It’s a body of evidence. As biographers or historians of whatever ilk, we do not ‘prove’ a point by discovering a record that asserts something. That assertion could be wrong. If so, any further work we do on the basis of that misinformation will likely be wrong or irrelevant. Not even ...

Negative Evidence? To Use or Not to Use?

16 August 2014
Evidence is messy. Because it is a mental construct, it rarely gives us the clear and simple answers that we seek. Sources, by contrast, are physical: we can touch them, see them, smell them, hear them. ...

It's Not Just about Giving Credit Where Due

18 August 2014
It happens so often. A researcher cites a census—typically accessed online, these days—but does not cite the online provider. Does it matter?