it’s a solid education

Did I tell you I have a summer job? Only sort of, right. Well, it’s a Jill-of-all-academia job — and the first component of it is to continue the editorial assistant work I took on last August. Copy-editing, mostly… trueing each article up to the Horizons in Biblical Theology style guide, which is 90% the Society of Biblical Literature style guide, which is 80% Chicago.

My other major responsibility here is reference checking. To use the sole positive thing I learned from President Reagan, I trust but verify — I use now-honed skills to fish obscure articles from my seminary’s online catalog.

But mostly what I’m doing is dropping back into my other advanced degree. Little did I know that my two and a half years of effort would yield a near-intuitive eye for citation ‘rightness.’

“Nope. No parentheses here. Those are for footnotes. Sorry: copying your footnotes into the end of your paper is not the same as constructing a bibliography. Even if you alphabetize the entries.”

“Look, friend. If you want to cite the work from 1991, you have to give it the name of the series from 1991. The current series name won’t cut it… as even the publisher recognizes, since they (in the top third of the webpage!) say, ‘This series is the one known as Dusty-Sounding Series until its new name in 2014.'”

“Boring, Boring, Boring… I don’t think he wrote a Matthew commentary. Look, there’s his Mark one, the one I read all spring. But Matthew-? Ohhhhhhhhhhh. It’s inside a commentary-Bible. People, when you put a title in italics, that means BOOK. If it doesn’t have its own ‘binding,’ it doesn’t get to use italics. And it would help if you included the Name. Of the Actual. Book.”

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I bet you are not crafting academic papers at this time. Though why not? Just as in my field of poetry, the bar for submitting things is now quite low and, with the gathering collapse of tenured academia, lots of journals are accepting work from independent scholars.

So as you venture back into the world of academic libraries, I want you to use these pro-fessional tips:

Zotero.org has the best citation manager I’ve found, and it’s Open Source, and it’s run by librarians, and it’s free-as-in-beer. So you can tidily slurp most of the citation information you need from online catalogs, and your citation stash is not tied to your institutional affiliation (that is, you can take them with you). It won’t always get you to Full Chicago, but it’ll get you most of the way there. Even if you prefer to generate your manuscripts longhand, digital storage of your references is The Way To Go. Friends don’t let friends keep their references on Post-Its. Or 3×5 cards.

And:
The point of citations (whether footnote or bibilographic) is FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO GO READ WHAT YOU DID. If other people can’t find, or even figure out, what it was you read — yes, I am looking at you, Section-of-Bible Person — your citation has failed.

We’re trying to share the love, not generate annoying hurdles to irritate scholars. In either direction!

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Yep! It’s overall a good start to the summer, grounding myself in other people’s details. It gives me plenty of room to keep my brain open for my own work to seep up in the back.

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