Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-04 > 1019686960

From: KB <>
Subject: Authorship & Qualifications [was Rosie the Riveter/Inquisitor]
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 22:22:40 +0000
References: <><>
In-Reply-To: <>

On Wednesday, April 24, 2002, 6:30:37 PM, you wrote:

G> It seems to me that anyone who offers a book for sale which purports to be
G> authoritative in its subject matter is obliged to reveal his or her
G> qualifications, including the subject matter of his or her degrees, as an
G> indication that he or she knows what he or she is doing. One is not right
G> simply because one has a Ph.D., but it doesn't hurt <g>. However, someone who
G> asks about those qualifications has no corresponding obligation. The inquirer
G> is simply being sure that money is not being wasted, for instance on _Royalty
G> for Commoners_, which is a heap of camel dung. Purchasers knew the
G> qualifications of Weis, Sheppard and Faris; they are entitled to know those of
G> their appointed successor.


Academic performance, and thus "authoritativeness," is both
measured and achieved by the number of times an individual writer's
published research is cited by others researching and writing in
the same discipline. These citations must be those found in vetted
publications, or "peer-review" journals. Volume of output is no
guarantor of authoritativeness, particularly in a field glutted with
books promising to make you the heir of the Ming dynasty or the latest
descendant of the Stewarts. Nor is the ownership of a Ph.D
necessarily a sound measure of one's ability to produce qualitative
genealogical works [although certainly there have been MA's or Ph.D's
who are capable of accomplishing work on the same level with those august
personages fortunate enough to tag the acronyms "FASG," "CG," or "AG"
onto their birth names]. Requesting curriculum vitae from a potential
author, even considering that the answers one receives are accurate,
is not the most effective method of discovering his or her potential
ability/accuracy, which one might hope is a justification for the cold
cash laid out for their latest tome.

There is an helpful finding aid right here on the SGM listserv. Go

Contributing resident SGM authors are listed, along with their
published articles and the citations thereto. Note the frequency [or
infrequency] with which they have contributed to vetted publications,
compared to other authors.

Next, you will want to find out how many times other researchers and
writers in the field of genealogical studies have cited these
articles in their own research [as mentioned]. This is an indication
that your man [or woman, as the case may be] is no longer an "unwashed
plebian," but a member in full standing of the academic and professional
community to which he/she contributes.

Some of the most authoritative genealogical publications in the United
States are The American Genealogist [TAG], The New York Genealogical
and Biographical Record [THE RECORD], and The New England Historic and
Genealogical Register [NEHGS]. Publication in these serials is
generally an indication that the author is capable of a high level of
genealogical scholarship. Note that I mentioned "generally." The
published work that contains absolutely no errors of fact, chronology, or
typesetting, does not exist.

For those fortunate enough to be able to have access to the Social
Sciences Citation Index [SSCI], an author search will provide a wealth
of detail as to the influence and respect that a particular scholar
has generated in the published record. For instance, the late Dr.
Faris has been cited 15 times in vetted publications since 1987. For
those who don't quite grasp the import of these numbers, consider that
no professional, in any discipline, wants to stake his OWN professional
reputation on the shifting sands of inaccurate data. Of course,
one needs to investigate the citations in question, as SSCI does
not recognize the salient fact that authors love to quote their own
work. Adjust your assessments accordingly by checking the noted
citations for context. If you do not have access to this tool, visit
your local academic librarian and they will be more than happy to
assist you. No ID is required.

Below is a link to the Website of the American Society of
Genealogists, in particular the page which lists current Fellows.
I am personally acquainted with one and am familiar with the
work of many, one of whom is a distant relation. One might contact
the society for further information regarding the qualifications and
curriculum vitae of particular genealogists:


I provide the information in this message as a tool for those who want
to see the record for themselves. There is no substitute for one's
own investigations.

And, as always, "Caveat Emptor."


{B.A., M.L.S.,
Alpha Sigma Lambda Inductee,
Star of his 5th Grade School Play}


"Think not that the nobility of your ancestors doth free you to do all
that you list; contrarywise, may it bindeth you more to follow

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