Thursday, August 27, 2009

Manuscript Style Sheets

The best writing is direct, straightforward and focuses on ideas. Style sheets are used to facilitate written communications among scholars, students, and writers. The style sheets use conventions of language, consistency, and formatting to enable readers to concentrate on the message rather than the form. (At least that is what they claim.) Many teachers in high schools and colleges teachers require their students to follow a particular style sheet. Many professional and scholarly journals require adherence to particular style sheet.

ord choice is sometimes dependent on the field of study. Storytelling and narratives are best left to fiction and creative writing works. All scholarly publications depend on using and citing sources.These citations give credibility and support to the ideas expressed. Stuhlman's rule of citations is: All citations must be reversible. That means if I see a citation I must be able to look it up without ambiguity or confusion. One way of citation is the public view of a library catalog entry. If one searches Carter, C (that is last name Carter and any first name beginning with C)

This is the result from one library catalog. APA style sheet says to use on the initials of the author's given names. If you knew the author's last name and only the first initial you would not know which entry to choose. This is one example of the reasons APA style sheet is not sufficient for library searching. For library searching knowing only part of a name is not enough. Name authority is a system of entering names in catalogs. The system will bring together variants of names and spellings in other languages. One can't expect an author of an article or book to do the same name checking work as a librarian-cataloger, but it should be reasonable to copy the full name as listed in the source. Using the source name will give the library searcher a reasonable starting point to finding the bibliographic reference.

APA suggestions for author citations should not followed because it goes against their stated goal of clarity of communications.

Other features are legacies from the pre-computer word processing age. APA requires a serif type such as Times Roman face in the main body. This is the imitation of a typewriter. San-serif type faces such as Ariel look cleaner and more modern. The double-spacing between lines was done so that editors could make corrections on the paper. On the computer screen double spacing makes the document harder to read. We read by scanning in the upper parts of the letters. Double spacing confuses this ability to read quickly.

I challenge the makers and users of APA style sheet to start talking to librarians and library users so that changes can be made to bring the features into the age of computer word processing and library data base searches of articles, books, and other documents. This is just a short rant about style sheets. I challenge others to share their opinions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Submitting articles

Last April I wrote a scholarly article for publication. I submitted it and never heard from the publication. I followed up 6 weeks later and they claimed to have never received it. I sent it again. Since I didn't hear from them I followed up yesterday and the e-mail address of one editor didn't work. I finally found another editor to contact and he said that the article did not fit their publication.

I tried another publication, Judaism, Quarterly. I went to their web site and followed the directions. That e-mail bounced. The web site did have directions for submissions and subscriptions. What was strange is the latest issue was from 2006. I looked other places and could find an issue later than 2006. This morning I called their office and found out they suspended publication indefinably. Why does their web site not say anything? Why do they have directions for subscribing when they don't publish?

I looked for another publication, Jewish Quarterly Review. I followed their instructions for submission. The e-mail bounced. I wrote to someone else in the office. This morning they answered me. The address on the web site was incorrect, the server was done, and the person is out of the office until Wednesday. Perhaps on Wednesday the article will get to the right person?

In case the article is not for JQR, does anyone know of a scholarly journal I can try? I'm not looking for a name of a journal, but a place to search for the name. So many of the ones I know are not appropriate for this article on Hebrew-Yiddish names.


August 19.

JQR answered my submission. It arrived safely, but they want a PDF file without any references to my name so that it can be sent to their reviewers anonymously. I made some edits and decided to add another paragraph at the end.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scholarly communications and copyright

This summer at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention I attended a session given by a lawyer on the topic of copyright law and what Google is doing to scan library books. I just want to give some of my opinions.

First -- I once had a dream that I would have one union index that would list all the books that I own. I could look one place and find a subject and then know which book to open. The dream partially comes true when I use Google Scholar or Google Books to locate texts. I get a special delight when I seen a quote from a book or periodical and then I can go to the shelf and get the item.

When researchers look for intellectual material they want to be able to find materials quickly. Databases and scanned books help make the search and reading materials easier. Students, scholars and the general public depend on open and easy access to books and other intellectual content.

Second -- authors and creators have a right to be compensated for their creativity and work. In commercial ventures the compensation comes from sales. In academia the compensation comes from salaries paid by universities, grants, or institutional budgets. Sometimes publications charge an author for publishing their work.

It is obvious from the provisions of the copyright law that the lawmakers did not consider the needs of libraries, librarians, students and scholars. The law provides for fair use, but it does not provide for an accurate or convenient way of knowing who owns the copyright. The copyright period is life of the creator plus 70 years, yet there is no easy way to check dates of death. I have an alternative length of copyright.

  1. Copyright is automatic as in the current provision from the date of creation. To claim this protection the item must be dated. Any item not registered would be placed in public domain after 25 years.
  2. Copyright period under the automatic provision is for a period of 25 years. To obtain a longer period the item must be registered with the Copyright Office. When registering the owner may request 56 years, lifetime of the author plus 50, or indicate when the item will pass into public domain.
  3. Corporate owners of copyright protected materials must register for protection if they want more than 25 years of protection. The copyright may be renewed twice for a total of 75 years of protection. After that if the item is still commercially viable and the owner wanted to receive copyright protection they would need a special extension. After 100 years all items would automatically be placed in the public domain.
  4. Any item not registered would be placed in public domain after 25 years.
Copyright protection is a separate issue from ownership of intellectual property. Intellectual property is owned forever. That means one can not take the work of someone else and claim it for your own. If a publisher wants to reprint a book in the public domain, they do not have to pay royalties, but they may not claim the work is by another writer. Mark Twain owns Tom Sawyer forever.

If the items are registered with the Copyright Office that would indicate that the creator cared about protection. With registration Google, a library, or any member of the public could check on the copyright status. Once the owner is known it will be easier to get permission for reprinting or use in another manifestation of the work. Not registering would be prima faca evidence that the owner does not intend to claim protection of the copyright laws.