TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2003-02 > 1045328479
From: Lee Hoffman <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Forwarded email as source
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 12:01:19 -0500
Elsebeth Paikin wrote:
>At 12:26 15-02-2003 +0100, you wrote:
>>how do you cite a source which is an email from a third person forwarded by
>>a second person to yourself?
>As e-mails should not be forwarded without the consent of the author, I
>would cite it as an e-mail from the original author and specify the date
>and the name and e-mail from the person who forwarded it.
I often receive (sometimes even fourth-hand) e-mails from other researchers
just as I often receive letters written by and to other parties. But I
don't agree that the copyright issue has anything to do with the
description of the e-mail or letter for citation purposes. You should cite
the original email or letter as is. Following the normal citation, you
should include information (provenance) about how the e-mail or letter came
to be in the hands of the person holding it. For a letter received by you
GF, then inherited by your parent, and finally by you, a short statement to
that effect is all that is needed. For an e-mail, the similar statement
would note who forwarded the e-mail to whom for each transmission.
The end result is to ensure that the original author is credited for the
statements in the e-mail/letter and not the person forwarding the
e-mail/letter. This allow the reader of the citation to better assess the
reliability of the data contained in the le-mail;/letter.
>>Which surety would you assign?
>Definitely 0 surety. All e-mail messages without any specifications as to
>from where the information comes cannot have any surety -- except, of
>course, if it is from the person it is giving information on. In the
>latter case the surety depends on the kind of information.
The surety to be assigned can only be assessed by the person assigned the
value. While there are standard definitions for each value, the user has
to interpret those definitions such that the user can easily understand
them. Add to this that the entire system of surety value assignment is
very subjective, I could not say which value should be assigned in these
cases except to say that _probably_ I would assign a low value. It might
be as high as 2 although that would have to be unusual.
I can think of a number of correspondence situation in which the surety
might even be a 3. For example, a letter from a mother to a sibling
telling that she had just given birth to.... Similarly, an e-mail from
mother to brother who forwards it to a cousin who forwards it to their
sibling might also rate a high Surety. Of course, the more forwarding or
exchanges of ownership of an e-mail or letter the greater the chance that
the data can be altered and thus reduce the reliability of the
e-mail. That evaluation can only be made by the person entering the Surety
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