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ERIC Number: EJ869020
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1094-9046
Original Misunderstanding
Holtzman, Alexander
Knowledge Quest, v37 n3 p62-64 Jan-Feb 2009
Humorist Josh Billings quipped, "About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment." Billings was harsh in his view of originality, but his critique reveals a tension faced by students every time they write a history paper. Research is the essence of any history paper. Especially in high school, historical knowledge and theories for history papers come overwhelmingly from experts' earlier published work. Yet using these sources is essential and bears no resemblance to stealing. Put in a more positive light, Billings's comment suggests that the essence of originality is choosing one's sources carefully and synthesizing the evidence effectively. The author describes how he embarked on the process of writing an article to submit to the "Concord Review," a journal of high school history papers. His paper--written as a culmination of a semester-long independent study--looks at the causes and consequences of the surprising durability of the American two-party political system. In writing his paper, the author learned that the best and honest work comes from a deep and open collaboration between the wisdom of historians and the unique "perspective" of the history student. Here, the author stresses that, to correct the prevailing misunderstanding about what constitutes "original work," teachers and librarians should emphasize the centrality of expertise and the value of citations. (Contains 5 footnotes.)
American Association of School Librarians. Available from: American Library Association. 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. Tel: 1-800-545-2433; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A