EE's blog


Source Analysis 101

30 January 2014
When analyzing sources, the first question we ask ourselves should be: “Is this an original or a derivative?” However, this basic question is just a starting point for our evaluation of reliability. Some material falls clearly into one extreme or the other, but many resources fall somewhere on a sliding scale between those extremes.

Sod Widows, Grass Widows, and Widos

29 January 2014
Census takers, law clerks, and other scribes occasionally delight us and confuse us with their euphemisms. The first pair of labels, from the 1800s and early 1900s, refer to two classes of women who managed their own lives.

How Would You Fix These Citations?

28 January 2014
Years of teaching an advanced-level research methodology class has taught me at least one thing. Many researchers are great at following citation manuals but are totally lost in the thickets without one. Can you, without cracking EE, tell us what the problems are in each (or any) of these?

How Do We Handle Document Labels?

27 January 2014
We’ve all heard the advice: full citations should appear on every photocopied or scanned document and every page of a research report. It also matters where, exactly, we place that label. To avoid . . .

Punctuation, Schmunctuation!

26 January 2014
In the citation world, most sins against punctuation, capitalization, and stuff of that ilk are pretty venial. Occasionally, they matter. Sometimes they matter greatly. Consider this pair: ...

A Research Blueprint

25 January 2014
You’re a researcher—perhaps a research professional, a student, or a family historian—who regularly tackles a variety of subjects. How do you approach each new assignment or each new geographic area? Do you, as someone asked recently in an online forum, use a checklist of source types that you keep handy so you won’t forget to search for any critical type? . . .

Slaves, Freedmen, and Laws

24 January 2014
When we set out to study slaves and freedmen in antebellum America, we learn quickly the importance of knowing the laws. Not the suppositions we hear right and left, not the broad generalizations we "learn" from the media, but the actual text of state and local laws for the time and place.

Conference Presentations & Copyrights

23 January 2014
A history enthusiast, in an online forum that will go unnamed, was singing the praises of conference presentations for self-education. He noted the pros and cons of both live and recorded instruction. Then he plunged head first into the quagmire of legal rights . . .

Abstracts vs. Abstracts, with a Bit of an Extract

22 January 2014
Basic research terms can mean quite different things in different professional fields or in varying contexts. Take the word "abstract" for example. An abstract we prepare in the research stage looks quite different from an abstract prepared to accompany a dissertation or published paper. . . .

Legal Language & the Wrinkles It Can Create in Our Writing

21 January 2014
Legal language bumfuzzles many researchers. It also causes many to iron wrinkles into their writing when they sit down to report their findings or weave their accounts. This week, we spotted the following quartet in four different academic publications. What’s your reaction? How should each of these be rephrased?