Tuesday, January 4, 2005

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January's Books of the Month

The general interest book for January comes from the pen of my colleague Charles Lipson: Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success. This is really two books in one. The second part of the book is a quick guide to citation ctyles across the myriad disciplines. This section is more accessible than the Chicago Manual of Style, which makes it great for undergraduates.

[Yes, but this is the general interest book, not the "specifically for undegraduates" book!!-ed] Ah, yes, but the first part of the book is devoted to the Three Principles of Academic Honesty, which are laid out on the first page of the book:

  • When you say you did the work yourself, you actually did it.

  • When you rely on someone else's work, you cite it. When you use their words, you quote them openly and accurately, and you cite them, too.

  • When you present research materials, you present them fairly and truthfully. That's true whether the research involves data, documents, or the writings of other scholars.
  • Lipson's book is intended for undergraduates, but in light of the rash of plagiarism that exists among professors -- particularly at the Harvard Law School for some reason -- these maxims should not only be imbibed by undergraduates [What about outside academia?--ed. An excellent question for the commenters -- are these rules appropriate for non-academic forms of employment that require research and writing? My gut says yes, but I'm curious to hear counterarguments.]

    The international relations book for January is Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. While I started this book last October, I only finished it over the break.

    Foer doesn't really provide a theory of globalization -- God knows there are enough of those already. Foer does something better -- he uses soccer as a lens to discuss the ways in which nationalism coexists, conflicts, and occasionally compliments the economic interdependence underlying globalization. The book consists of a series of national vignettes, some of which are fascinating (why Brazilian soccer retained its corrupt practices despite the best efforts of foreign direct investors) and some of which are counterintuitive (Berlusconi's soccer club mirrors his presidential style -- and this is a good thing for both Italian soccer and Italian democracy). Given recent developments, the chapters on Ukraine and Iran are also worth checking out.

    Oh, and if by any chance you happen to be a Catalan nationalist, buy the book -- the effusive praise Foer heaps upon his favorite team FC Barcelona, is a veritable paean to the wonders of the Catalan people's ability to express their identity without any of the uglier downsides of nationalism (see the chapter on Bosnia for that outcome).

    posted by Dan on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM


    I thought How Soccer Explains The World was OK, but a lot of what was in there had already been said by Simon Kuper in his fantastic book Football Against The Enemy.

    posted by: Keven Lofty on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM [permalink]

    Yeah, I thought Foer's book was OK, not great. But then, again, I am much more nationalist than globalist. In that vein, I would VERY MUCH recommend Andy Markovits' "Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism". Whereas Foer "uses soccer as a lens to discuss the ways in which nationalism coexists, conflicts, and occasionally compliments the economic interdependence underlying globalization", Markovits (a U of M polisci prof) uses soccer to explore some important ways in which the American society differs from the rest of the world. (It also has a fascinating history of American soccer.)

    posted by: Al on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM [permalink]

    depends on the company...

    as well as the purpose...

    marketing.. less quotes, except for the superlatives about product/company that reinforce the message: see movie ads..

    internal research: always necessary for key points as it shows your work (why it took you 3 weeks to write a 10 slide ppt deck), helps build branding and credibility, enables reuse, and keeps the reasearch companies sweet (they have flesh eating lawyers that they let loose if you don't credit their work... frequently you're not even supposed to modify their slides or charts)

    the good thing is that your boss and opposing council don't care if you use MLA or whatever.. make it useable and clear, and they don't really care... given that nearly everyone has lexis nexis or something similar, quotes and publication are sufficient, authors and dates are helpful

    posted by: hey on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM [permalink]

    An excellent question for the commenters -- are these rules appropriate for non-academic forms of employment that require research and writing? My gut says yes, but I'm curious to hear counterarguments.

    BTW - in the non-academic legal field, this answer is often NO.

    For example, let's say a securities lawyer has to draft a prospectus for an IPO. What's the first thing he does? Collet lots of precedents, then cut and paste all the good stuff from the precedents into his draft. No quotation marks or citations to the other documents.

    Or let's say that a corporate lawyer is drafting a merger agreement. He takes a merger a agreement from another client, keeps the stuff that is the same, and revises the stuff that is different to suit the new deal. No citation/quotes.

    Or let's say a litigator is drafting a brief. Same thing: start with a similar brief keep most of it; revise the rest to apply to the present circumstances. No citations/quotes.

    posted by: Al on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM [permalink]

    In politics, none of these rules apply. The sole exception is when an elected official or candidate repeats as his own long passages of speeches previously delivered by another official or candidate. This is considered wrong.

    In the first place, many politicians do not write at all. The better ones task staff to write speeches for them, and edit them more or less extensively; the ones a step down from that rely on lobbyists. Secondly "other people's work" cited in speeches is usually some report, paper, or (more rarely) book that has attracted the notice of the media. What the politician quotes from it will generally be those parts of it that support his point of view, whether this is fair and accurate or not. And to the extent research in involved in public statements it is usually research undertaken after its conclusion has been determined.

    All of this, incidentally, applies not only to elected and appointed government officials but also to the heads of trade associations, corporations, umions, and other interest groups. It's a pretty grim picture if you leave it there.

    However, there are important exceptions. Among them are public officials who let staff write speeches only after making clear exactly what they want to say -- if you have to make three speeches a day it only makes sense to have someone else spend time in front of the terminal putting them on paper. Some politicians have the idea that giving credit for others' work where it is due and being meticulously fair in describing it gives to their own statements, and thus to them, an impression of probity that they think valuable. Sen. Lugar is one who is known for this. (The flip side, in legislative work, is that credit is often publicly given by some legislators to others even when it is in no way deserved).

    Finally there are public officials who get a pass on these rules because they are understood to be promoting action, not thought. The higher up in the government you go the more often you will find this is true. James Monroe did not write the Monroe Doctrine; the Marshall Plan was not penned by George Marshall; Ronald Reagan barely knew what was in the tax reform proposal his Treasury Department spent two years preparing and submitted to Congress early in his second term. And as for the Bush Doctrine...well, you get the idea. None of these are thought by anyone to be examples of dishonesty, only as the way the world works.

    posted by: Zathras on 01.04.05 at 12:50 PM [permalink]

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