I am working on a wiki page that is going to list a variety of New Story starter factoids that teachers and school administrators might use during the opening of schools and school open houses. I’ve drawn the items from a variety of sources, including the very fine “Did You Know” presentation slides that Karl Fisch generously shared with us through his blog.
I ran into a frustrating problem with some of the starters. When I researched the items, trying to find their sources, a number of the statements were posted in weblogs. They were attributed to some pundit or researcher, but there was no citation or direct reference to a primary source. There were also a number of references to conference speakers who had repeated something that some pundit or researcher had said. But again there were no references to primary sources in the resources made available by the speakers.
Now I am by no means consistent with citing the sources of the information that I use in my presentations and on my blog. But I try to be. I think that, at the same time that it is our ethical obligation to assure the reliability of the information that we access, it is equally important that we assure that the information that we share is also reliable. This means citing the sources as appropriately as possible.
It’s actually easy to do, as there are a number of web tools available that will help you generate standard citations. I have run one on Landmarks for Schools for a number of years called The Citation Machine. You simply select the type of citation (MLA or APA), select the type of source (web page, book, etc.) and then fill in the form. The tool then assemble the information you have type into a standard citation, which you can the copy and paste into your blog or your presentation slide.
I have also installed a WordPress extension on my blog that will generate five types of citations for any of the blog entries that might be worthy of citing. I think that it is a simple thing to do, and it is our responsibility to do it.