Ethical Concerns

Under the academic jail, or nah?

One of the cornerstones of education, at least during my educational experiences, has been paying respect through the citation of any sources that you utilized, quoted, or referenced when creating your own work. This is extremely imperative as this practice should be one that is ethical and reinforced by laws. It is important, especially within the field of history that we are able to attribute our research and hard work to others who may have had a hand in our scholastic success. But I guess that that lends itself to the question: who owns knowledge and information? In my opinion, I don’t believe that anyone truly does, however, the blood, sweat, and tears that are put into discovering said knowledge is worthy of not only praise but citation.

I really enjoyed several of the points made by T. Mills Kelly. We should look at history with a more fun approach, as this discipline not only gives us perspective on the past but also informs us of the future. I think that it is imperative that professors take initiative to create courses that challenge historical/societal norms around normal topics such as historiography and methods. But honestly, innovation has to start way before college. It is important that we are teaching elementary and middle school students about how to properly conduct research in order to not have issues regarding copyright infringement or plagiarism. I really enjoyed the fact that Kelly spoke about integrating materials such as the US Census and how 5th graders truly enjoyed it. I think that it is not always about what we are teaching, or those lessons, but how we are doing it which piques people’s interest.

Be original. Cite when necessary. Continue laying a path for those to come.

2 replies on “Under the academic jail, or nah?”

I fully agree, by the time students come to college, study and research habits are already ingrained and have become a reflex. Therefore, we need to introduce this process earlier in their education. How would you suggest teaching this? Should we make it a group activity? Also, how young is too young to learn about researching and copyright? Do students need this knowledge in elementary school or can it wait until middle school? I also notice that you said to lay a path for those to come. This reminds me of one of the licenses on creative commons that states that those who use the content are allowed to make changes to it. How should we fight the resistance to other people building on the work of others? When they build upon another’s work, as you mention, it is important to cite them, as they work hard to create that content, but why is there a resistance against people building upon the work of others, even if they cite the original work?

I also learned from a fairly young age to cite ideas that are not my own or outside sources (even if I was awful at citation formatting for a while, I at least understood the principle). So, I was also really on board with Kelly’s approach (and I thought the hoax was hilarious). What I took away from this reading wasn’t so much that we should do away with citations entirely, but that the current system takes the “fun” out from history and creates a sense of elitism.

I guess my question is, when is it “necessary” to cite? Is there a way to have it both ways, where historians can be creative but also pay respect to the work of others?

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