October
23rd 2013
Citations, the Chicago way.

Posted under: American history, art, bad language, students, unhappy endings, weirdness

Why, oh why is it so difficult (if not impossible) to get students to use Chicago-style citations properly in history essays?  In evidence-intensive disciplines like mine, footnotes or endnotes (and no “works cited” page!) are the only kind of citations that make sense.  And yet, every semester, more than 60% of my students ignore the posted requirement that they use Chicago-style citations.

I assume this is because APA/MLA-style citations (parentheses with page number/s and a “works cited” page) are required in more disciplines.  And believe me, I’m grateful that my students (however mistakenly) use some kind of evidence and reasonably consistent citations in their papers.  But for historians, who (pardon my disciplinary pride here) should use more than one f^(king text or source per citation, it’s completely idiotic, not to mention disruptive of the flow of the paper and just goddamned ugly.  (Just my opinion!)

Christ on a cracker, people:  it’s not that hard to figure out, not when the Chicago people put a lovely and easy-to-use “Quick Guide” online and free to all!  I’m thinking of showing this clip from The Untouchables to my students about “the Chicago way.”

As another famous 80s movie put it:  “Learn it.  Know it.  Live it.” (And enjoy that glimpse of Anthony Edwards with hair!)

 

46 Comments »

46 Responses to “Citations, the Chicago way.”

  1. Nicoleandmaggie on 23 Oct 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Because Chicago style sucks?

  2. Historiann on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Like I said: if you have and use evidence, it doesn’t suck at all.

  3. Matt_L on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Amen!

    Chicago with footnotes is fantastic. Plus, Zotero and RefWorks will automatically format your footnotes for you. A little bird told me that Microsoft has even incorporated a bibliographic database into the latest version of Word. They offer Chicago as one of the options for formatting.

    I’ll give the undergrads from the other disciplines a break. But there is no excuse for history majors not to use Chicago.

  4. Zest on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    These kinds of disputes can get really dangerous:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/4-copy-editors-killed-in-ongoing-ap-style-chicago,30806/

    I stand with the Chi-Man crew.

  5. Historiann on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    A-HAhahaha! Love it.

    You’re either with us, or with the terrorists.

  6. Janice on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    I’ve noticed that our university’s resources (such as the Cite button in Historical Abstracts) puts Chicago Author-Date in front of Chicago Notes-Bibliography as an option. That said, I continually find myself irked at how many students ignore my in-class guidance on how to cite in the Chicago style, the links I provide online or the examples I share with the assignment.

    Dreaming the impossible dream here!

  7. Historiann on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Janice, I was incredibly impressed to discover that the online Dictionary of Canadian biography gives full citations in different styles at the bottom of every entry. Pretty impressive, I say!

    Yes, it’s clearly an impossible dream unless I start making assignments that force them to use only DCB entries. And even then, some will figure out a way to go all APA/MLA rogue on me!

  8. Indyanna on 23 Oct 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    The basic undergraduate writing courses in most places are taught in the English Departments. And, here at least (although the university curriculum makes clear that these courses are intended in support of the entire range of courses), the writing instructors–many of whom are underpaid, adjunctive, and even when on track, often treated as somewhat lesser citizens in their department than the literary scholars–for the most part won’t relent on the universality of MLA style. (Maybe some roguish history major should enroll in a Shakespeare course and cite three letters, a tavern account book, a mildewed church tything roll, and a breaking piece of hot criticism, within parentheses).

  9. Western Dave on 23 Oct 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    With a huge range of online sources (databases, e-texts, e-journals), and no easy way to do in-text citation of websources (except as links), footnotes are more necessary than ever. Administrators at my school pushed for everybody to do MLA but we have pushed back. And we have a noodletools subscription so it’s not hard for the kids.

  10. Northern Barbarian on 23 Oct 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Chicago and footnotes all the way! I make my survey students do an annotated bibliography as psrt of the research process, and if they don’t use Chicago format they have to re-do it to get credit. That gets their attention. I am frustrated, though, that Refworks doesn’t format Chicago the way I learned it, with the date at the end. There now seem to be a couple of different versions of Chicago out there. I am confused.

  11. tony grafton on 23 Oct 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Bliss was it in that dawn to read these posts. Chicago forever?

  12. History Maven on 23 Oct 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Who has the last four editions of the Chicago Manual of Style on her bookshelf? I do! I was lucky enough to have a scholarly editing job in grad school and learned to love CMoS.

    Undergraduates who are flummoxed by citations oftentimes don’t really understand the process they represent. Some students seem to pick it up when I had them edit other students’ footnotes when they wrote essays using the same primary and secondary sources–looking first for consistency in form then looking back into the essay to see the connections of evidence to argument.

  13. Feminist Avatar on 23 Oct 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    I also find a major problem is that, for first years at least but even afterwards, they don’t know how to use the footnote function in Word (or its equivalents). So, they give up and use parentheses or they do imaginative things with numbers next to sentences (which must be a complete pain if they ever edited their text – maybe not as big a problem as I’d like to hope).

  14. rustonite on 23 Oct 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    This past summer at my terrible adjunct gig I was ordered by the department chair to use MLA citations, because “it’s what they learned in high school.” And it really does seem to be the only thing the students know how to use.

    Can I append to this rant a complaint about Google Docs? Does anyone else’s university have a deal with Google? All of our students use it, and the way it renders footnotes is completely obnoxious.

  15. Tenured Radical on 23 Oct 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    Because when 99.9% of them leave college they will never have to write a footnote again?

  16. Dr. Crazy on 23 Oct 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Weighing in as somebody who teaches required writing courses, I will tell you that the emphasis is on getting them to understand fairly basic things about writing at the university level (constructing an argument, developing coherent paragraphs, learning to develop a topic for a paper, learning how to approach different sorts of rhetorical situations in their writing). While research is part of what we teach, a lot of what we emphasize is how to locate appropriate sources, how to integrate them effectively into their own writing, and how to synthesize a variety of voices in their writing. Yes, we address citation. BUT, it’s impossible in the context of a course that serves ALL majors to give instruction on ALL citation styles. So what typically happens is that instructors focus on *one* style and what the point of using a citation style is, and how citation styles differ by discipline (in general), and why it’s important that things get cited/ academic integrity stuff.

    (And yes, the style that most frequently gets taught is MLA, though it’s worth noting that it is TOTALLY RARE for actual English professors to use MLA format in their own published work – journals/presses that publish lit stuff typically have some sort of “house” style that is a hybrid of MLA format and Chicago Style, and journals/presses that publish in the more professional writing side of things gravitate toward APA style, so in nearly all cases, the only people who use MLA style regularly are students.)

    So, what to do? At my institution, a number of majors have developed a required course (or two) for just their majors in which they themselves (not the writing program folks) teach students the conventions of academic writing in their own particular disciplines. From what I hear from my colleagues in those departments, this approach has worked very well for them. The main challenge was getting that off the ground, because it means that a faculty member or two in the department needs to agree to teach a writing course.

    Also, for what it’s worth, we ourselves in the English department have developed a required intro to the major course that does this work for our very own majors, even though they have likely been exposed to MLA format elsewhere. And I teach that course, in addition to teaching composition, and I can tell you that the work that I do with teaching majors writing is *totally different* from what I do in my comp courses, and it makes a difference to be able to teach that stuff *outside* of the actual literature courses that I teach, where I can only give short shrift to writing instruction if I hope to actually cover the content of my courses.

  17. Mark Peterson on 23 Oct 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    I often give examples of precisely how to do Chicago-style footnotes right on the essay assignment (or “prompt,” as all the California kids say), using samples taken from exactly those sources that I have asked them to use in writing their papers (this in a big intro survey class with 300 students, lots of them first years, in which I don’t want them going off to do their own research (yet). Yes, it’s learning by rote, but I don’t see anything wrong with that, and when it’s put in front of them that way and they’re told to do it, then most of them do it, and some of them, I hope, learn it.

  18. Susan on 23 Oct 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    We’re all so manic about it that *all* history courses require it. As one of my colleagues said to me, in their lives, our students will have to follow complex and apparently random rules. This is good practice.

    But even with lots of reinforcement, it’s hard for some of them….

  19. Sisyphus on 24 Oct 2013 at 12:12 am #

    I friggen hate Chicago style. I would rather teach APA or one of the bio style sheets than Chicago in my comp classes. Why should I have to flip all the way back to the end of the essay to find out where they supposedly got that idea in _Advertising the American Dream_?

  20. polisciprof on 24 Oct 2013 at 5:15 am #

    If it makes you feel better, I allow students in my classes to use Chicago style, APA or MLA, so long as they use the style consistently and correctly.

    I get students from a variety of majors in my upper division courses. I would prefer to have them employ the citation style they know best, rather than beating one style into them.

    Political science journals mostly use APA but, as a Latin Americanist, I also publish in multidisciplinary area studies journals. Maybe that experience has made me more heterodox in my approach.

  21. Historiann on 24 Oct 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Why should I have to flip all the way back to the end of the essay to find out where they supposedly got that idea in _Advertising the American Dream_?

    But you don’t have to if the author uses footnotes. It’s all right there at the bottom of the page–ALL of the citation information, not just a surname and a date.

    Endnotes are a pain in the butt, I grant you, but with APA/MLA we ALL have to flip to the end of the article or book to see the full citations.

  22. Perpetua on 24 Oct 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Just as I am preparing a style guide for my students with samples of CMS footnotes and bibliographies, along with the url to the online CMS quick guide. CMS forever!

  23. Historiann on 24 Oct 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Like Mark Peterson, I’ve given my students (even in upper-division courses) an exact footnote to show them how to cite the required material. Even then, they like to reverse the author’s name to lastname, firstname, they don’t follow the custom of article names in quotation marks, book titles underlined or italicized, etc. Copying my exact example is too difficult for them–they must either ignore or improve upon it.

    So, I’ve given up everything except my irritation with the students who don’t follow instructions. Clearly, this is not a productive place to be! I will lead an in-class tutorial next week on how to insert footnotes into a Word document, why you don’t need a “works cited” page or a bibliography because you put all of the information in the footnote, etc.

    For now, I’m just exhausted by my own outrage!

    I take Tenured Radical’s point that most students will never need to write a footnote again in their lives, but 1) a lot of them will, if they go to grad school or professional school one day, and 2) we instruct students all of the time in things they’ll probably never need to know how to do ever again (for example: calculus, conjugating irregular -ir French verbs, the Krebs cycle) and test them on these things. Why shouldn’t historians share some of the art and mystery of their trade with our students? Why can’t we hold them accountable for standard historical citation practices when we ask them to write history essays?

  24. Dr. Virago on 24 Oct 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Indyanna says: (Maybe some roguish history major should enroll in a Shakespeare course and cite three letters, a tavern account book, a mildewed church tything roll, and a breaking piece of hot criticism, within parentheses).

    Um, yeah, many a Shakespeare prof is likely to say, “Why didn’t you use Chicago style?” Those of us who work in pre-modern periods — and often do cite things like letters, manuscripts, and criticism all at once — tend to publish in journals that use Chicago or its close cousin, Turabian.

    If even Dr. Crazy the Modernist isn’t using MLA in her publications, I haven’t the foggiest idea who is!

  25. Tenured Radical on 24 Oct 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Here’s the thing: you don’t have to *learn* how to do footnotes. All you have to do is learn how to *copy* them. It’s rare that an undergraduate faces a super-tricky citation situation, so really, just copying it out of the book is enough. They copy other things — why not this?

  26. quixote on 24 Oct 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Okay, science ignoramus here. Bear with me. I need, um, footnotes.

    How is it helpful to have the bibliography scattered through all the pages instead of collected at the end in an alphabetical list?

    I’m not visualizing the problem with multiple sources per citation. It happens in the sciences too and we list “blah blah blah Krebs cycle (Szent-Gyorgi 1933, Krebs 1937, Gallimaufrey and Horseshoe 2012).” All that does is allow you to find the fuller citation in the Bib. So if, say, it’s a letter by an anonymous Salem housewife, I’d imagine something like (housewife 1691) and in the bibliography the citation of the letter in the rare books library manuscript collection. Or whatever. So, anyway, this is a longwinded way to say I need an example so I can understand the issue.

    Footnotes are definitely useful for explanatory or illustrative details tangential to but directly relevant to the topic, and hunting for those at the back is very distracting, but that doesn’t seem to be what you mean.

    And not putting last names first? I’m all shocked. Your students may be ignoring that directive because they can’t wrap their minds around it. Sort of like putting the South Pole at the top of the map.

    Loved the Onion clip!

  27. rustonite on 24 Oct 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    @quixote Three reasons we use footnotes, rather than in-text citations:

    (1) Footnotes don’t break the narrative flow. Historians, generally, are not just reporting results, they’re telling a story, and in-text citations interrupt it. They’re jarring for the reader.

    (2) Some readers don’t care about the notes, and may even be put off them. If you’re writing a book that’s meant for both a scholarly and popular audience, the publisher will often insist on endnotes, rather than footnotes, which are thought to frighten normals. In-text citations are even worse. Any text meant for less than a highly technical audience needs footnotes or endnotes.

    (3) Sometimes we move part of the text into the footnotes, stuff that isn’t completely germane to the subject at hand but still needs to be included. For instance, I just wrote an article on hospitality in the middle Byzantine period, and I believe I’ve identified the location of one of the inns I talk about. I put the calculations in a footnote, because they’re not really related to the topic of the paper (which is the cultural and literary role played by inns), but they need to be in the paper somewhere because I mention the probable location of this particular inn, and they haven’t been published anywhere else.

    On the matter of bibliographies- Chicago style, technically, does not require a bibliography, and instead the first citation to a work is the full citation, and all succeeding citations are abbreviation. However, that’s generally not followed in my field, and we use a short citation in the footnotes and include a bibliography- and usually a table of abbreviations, since there are a lot of works that are cited so often that there are nearly universal abbreviations for them, so I have footnotes like “CTh VI.28.1″ and everyone knows to go look at book 6, chapter 28, section 1 of the Codex Theodosianus.

  28. anonymous grad on 24 Oct 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Coming from anthropology & archaeology, where in-text citations and end bibliographies are standard, I generally agree with quixote that having full citations at the end is useful if you want to look up a specific source.

    But lately I have been writing about a lot of government documents and manuscript sources that don’t lend themselves to author:date format quite so well, and I wrote most of a chapter with footnotes in order to submit somewhere with specific instructions. It’s BRILLIANT! If you’re writing a paragraph based on a whole bunch of archival documents, instead of making half your paragraph a giant, awkward parenthetical citation, you just put it all down in the footnote. Much nicer looking.

    So I’m a convert. Too bad I have go back to in-text for the rest of the dissertation. Time to do as rustonite says, and set up some abbreviations.

  29. Feminist Avatar on 24 Oct 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    One of the benefits of footnotes is that historians often use sources that are very similar in citation so require more detail to identify them than the author date system allows. So, anonymous housewife, Salem actually wrote 100 letters in 1691 and I am citing from 50 of them, so I need to then start doing 1691a, 1691b, etc until z, but then what? aa? bb? In this instance, the footnote system even saves words, because I can write Fabulous Archive, Salem Housewife to Salem Househusband, 1 Jan 1691, 3 Mar 1691, and 17 Apr 1691, in one footnote, rather than writing out each full reference each time, and I can abbreviate in subsequent footnotes.

    And, what about that bundle of letters she wrote that don’t have a date attached? What do I write then? (Usually we have file numbers or letter numbers provided by the archive to aid identification, but this doesn’t work in author date system). And, then there are newspapers, which in the past were usually written anonymously and quite frequently without article titles. Do I have to start with all the 1741a, 1741b again? Surely, it’s easier just to do what we do and give the full date with the title in a footnotes.

    There are also issues with how many words it would add to the references list. Citing an archive is usually quite word consuming- so Edinburgh, National Records of Scotland [hereafter NRS], Robertson of Straloch, GD1/90/10, John Reid, London to Alexander Robertson, 17 Jul 1777. Now, if we want to cite another letter, we just do NRS, GD1/90/11 [Unknown - letter torn] to John Reid, [No date]. And if we want to recite the same letter, just GD1/90/11 by itself.

    And if we have a bibliography, it will have a title of Edinburgh, National Records of Scotland, with a list of the different paper sets (ie Robertson of Straloch, GD1; but also Clerk of Penicuik, GD18; Dukes of Hamilton, GD406 etc). And that’s it. If you want the specifics, look at the footnotes.

    But the author date way requires us to list every single letter (or other source and in full), so Salem Houswife (1691a), Letter to Salem Househusband, 4 Jul, Minnesota, Fabulous Archive, Jefferson papers. And then all over again for 1691b etc.

    However, as rustonite says, the main reason is readability. We use a lot of notes compared to many disciplines- very often every single sentence will have a note and many of these will have multiple references, and frequently related commentary that can relate to the source itself (like, date identified through xyz). This makes the prose very clunky and difficult to read when those notes are in text, and we are an ART, we are telling stories, so don’t mess with that!

  30. thefrogprincess on 24 Oct 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    A) The main reason I think students struggle with Chicago is that MLA’s been drilled into them from early high school on. I was taught it in 9th grade, and my first year students all reported having learned MLA. So it requires them to break with something they thought they had locked down.

    B) I remain amused by those who rail against Chicago, and I’m thinking that Chicago—and more importantly what it represents about our approach to evidence—may be the greatest distinction between historians and other disciplines. So count me in as major champion of footnotes and as someone who thinks the other methods are wholly unsuitable for historical writing.

    In answer to quixote: for historians, source-based evidence is key, but author and date are often the least important of the important bibliographic data. When I’m reading, I want to know what type of source is being used, and I want to know with very little effort, i.e. I do not want to go to a bibliography. (To say nothing of the fact that bibliographies would be hundreds of pages long if modernists had to create a listing for every scrap of paper consulted, which they would have to if they used parenthetical citations.) Depending on the book/article/essay and its importance to my own work and interests, it’s possible that I’ll need to look at a full (or close to full) citation every few sentences. Bibliography only would obscure one of the more vital pieces of information and would significantly hamper my reading.

    Anonymous grad and Feminist Avatar point to some of the obvious issues: the prolific production of letters, minute books, government reports, internal memoranda, etc. They haven’t mentioned newspapers, which I use extensively in my work, and simply put, author-date would be meaningless for newspaper articles, especially given how many newspaper articles have no author.

    Feminist Avatar and others have alluded to another issue: historical craft requires condensing a vast amount of sources into one or two sentences. Indeed, # of sources per footnote can at times be a sign of sophistication, certainly in comparing student work. To have a string of citations within parentheses that are longer than the sentence itself, assuming that it would even be workable, is senseless.

  31. Dr. Crazy on 24 Oct 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Tenured Radical writes: “Here’s the thing: you don’t have to *learn* how to do footnotes. All you have to do is learn how to *copy* them. It’s rare that an undergraduate faces a super-tricky citation situation, so really, just copying it out of the book is enough. They copy other things — why not this?”

    I have two answers to this question. 1)It’s one thing to copy stuff on the sly, as a way to short-cut a requirement. Not the same thing as copying something you’re asked to copy – exactly. 2) Students don’t understand the *rationale* of citation across various disciplines, so they figure one form is as good as another. In my comp classes, yes, I explain to them the *reasoning* behind different citation styles (an emphasis on date, vs. an emphasis on author, vs. an emphasis on certain types of documents over others), but I don’t think that is the norm. They typically just see citation requirements (if they pay attention to them at all) as arbitrary decisions of individual professors and about avoiding getting accused of plagiarism. They DO NOT GET THE WHY OF IT.

    Your students aren’t being willfully stupid, nor are they being rebellious. They just figure, “hey, there is no reason for this, so I’ll do it a way that is more familiar and easier for me, and was always ok for me before, at the last minute, when I am actually writing this paper, and that isn’t actually in violation of academic integrity policies that would get me kicked out of college.” They see your “requirement” for Chicago Style as an *option* and not as an actual requirement. They see it as a “recommendation.”

    Worth noting, from my experience in English (and I own the Chicago Manual of Style and have read the thing), there is a lot of room for negotiation and interpretation (which is why we in English hate it even as we are often subjected to its whims). It sounds from this thread like y’all in history think that it’s not flexible. Like it’s a “style.” At least in my experience, what makes Chicago Style a pain in the ass is that it IS NOT IN ANY WAY uniform. Sure, you can use footnotes…. or endnotes. You can have a bibliography… or not. IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY GIVE FINITE RULES!!!! Which is one of the reasons why people who teach gen ed composition do not teach CMS.

    Again, I don’t know many journals/presses in my field (20th and 21st century lit) that use MLA format straight up. What we typically do is in-text citations (in MLA) for the literary text, Chicago style for theory and criticism (notes), and then still a works cited page at the end, which gives bibliographic citations for everything. This is totally rational to me, as a scholar in literary studies.

  32. Historiann on 25 Oct 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Dr. Crazy, your description of mixed MLA and Chicago-style is my experience of interdisciplinary journals that publish both history and literary articles.

    I think you’re right in your analysis of my students’ attitudes. I need to do a better and more consistent job of explaining the why, as you say, and not just the how. I have pointed out to them that all of our books and articles use Chicago-style citations, so they have several fine models of citation on their desk/tops.

    I used to permit my students to choose their own citation styles, but I got tired of having a parenthetical citation after every sentence or two. It’s just ugly, when one footnote at the end of every paragraph will usually be just fine for an undergraduate essay.

  33. grumpyscholar on 25 Oct 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    I have the same troubles with my students – but worse, I see an increasing number who literally do not know how to insert a footnote in a Word document. Instead, they make little superscript numbers and insert – no joke – Excel spreadsheet tables at the bottom of the page, giving the footnote information. I’m thinking of doing a “make a footnote” assignment for all my undergraduate courses next year. Does anyone else see this?

  34. dance on 26 Oct 2013 at 7:14 am #

    I struggled with this back when I was teaching history, and I finally went all in with the why and skipped the Chicago rules (in part because when I tried to write them a guide specific to our course, it was complicated and annoying, and I got a sense of how it was for them).

    I gave them four rules, I think: 1) footnotes, because in-text is ugly and distracting; 2) enable reader to understand context of info, so focus on WHO you are citing, eg, use author of primary source (not author of book reprinting it) and how they said it 3) enable a stranger who is not taking the course to track your source down; 4) be consistent.

    Beyond that, I explicitly said it wasn’t a grading issue. I didn’t worry about lastname, firstname or vice versa, about periods or commas, etc. I occasionally mentioned italics for books but in history so many things are not books, I didn’t worry too much about quotation marks or not for other types of titles. This was much less frustrating for me. I tried to provide samples for our course materials as possible (and here it got clunky–if using an excerpted PDF, I would type the full citation at the top as a model, but I should properly use bibliography style not footnote style, so then my students have this sample they can’t quite just copy…).

    Agree with above–they resist footnotes because they don’t realize MS Word/clones will do all the work for them, so yes, I made that clear and told them to look it up in help.

    In addition, I don’t think most of them have much of a concept of “ugly” as applied to word processing. I can’t stand long in-text citations, but I also can’t stand titles with line-breaks in weird places, or titles/text all squeezed together at the top. But they don’t have my eye.

  35. quixote on 26 Oct 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Thanks for the clarifications! I was definitely in this group, “They DO NOT GET THE WHY OF IT.” but I have a much better idea of the constraints now.

    And as for in text citations, when there’s a lot of them I have to agree they’re visually distracting. My poor eyes go hunting through the word salad, trying to pick the thread back up. It reminds me of learning German and hunting for the verb.

  36. Historiann on 26 Oct 2013 at 11:19 am #

    grumpyscholar: yes, I see the same thing. I’m perversely impressed by how inventive they are in making their notes by brute force rather than letting the software do it for them.

    This is (just another reason) why I’m skeptical of the whole “digital native” bull$hit we hear about our students today. Wouldn’t true “digital natives” know how to use the “Help” feature built into commercial software, or just google a question or look it up on YouTube? But no. My students don’t need a whole way of learning history (or whatever disciplines you all teach). They need instruction in the basic tools of navigating the commercial software they’ll probably be using for the forseeable future in their own professional lives first, not to mention instruction in critical reading and thinking.

  37. HighSchoolPhD on 26 Oct 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    After leaving the academy a year ago to teach at an independent boarding school I can tell you this:
    1) A lot of high school history teachers don’t have advanced degrees in history (rather, they have a Masters in Education) and therefore do not teach discipline specific skills Chicago Style is only one of them (oh, the stories I could tell that would horrify you).
    2) No one explains to high school students why citations are important and why historians use Chicago Style (see all of your very valid points, above).
    3) Once you do explain this to students, they get it, and try hard to fix it.
    4) Most high school teachers are so busy trying to do content coverage, deal with parents, the state’s (or board of their school’s) directives, or grading papers, that this stuff can get lost in the shuffle.

    Students really do want to learn, but in the era of standardized testing they learn that there is only 1 right way to do things. Or else they fail. They are not taught the very basics of our discipline: interpretation, analysis, argument-making, and flexible thinking. They are only rewarded for rote repetition and not for creative analytical work. The footnote discussion points to a larger problem facing colleges and universities in the years to come: you are getting students who have not be taught the very basic analytical and critical skills necessary for the most basic intro classes. The is because the secondary school system in this country is increasingly failing our students.

    What does this mean for College and University Educators? High Schoolers are conditioned to act one way for at least 4 years of high school. It will take a lot to break those bad habits and help them understand what this discipline is really about.
    I often wonder if Higher Ed is truly aware and/or ready to deal with this. And I wonder if there shouldn’t be greater conversations about this between High School and College educators?
    I’ve brought this up at the AHA at a meeting with secondary school educators and was given the impression that that was not the role of the AHA. But if not there, then where?

  38. Comradde PhysioProffe on 26 Oct 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/4-copy-editors-killed-in-ongoing-ap-style-chicago,30806/

  39. Comradde PhysioProffe on 26 Oct 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Sorry, forgot to h/t Nicole and Maggie for the Onion link.

  40. Historiann on 26 Oct 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    Zest linked to that three days ago upthread! But, it’s worth a re-link, to be sure.

  41. Belle on 27 Oct 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I’m rather draconian about it. I show ‘em, tell ‘em, walk them through ‘is this a language class? no? then don’t use Modern LANGUAGE format, OR APA… use HISTORY format.’ And if they use MLA? They lose points allotted to formatting citations. Period.

  42. Anymouse on 27 Oct 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    One difficulty is that Word Starter lacks the ability to create a footnote. I usually get by via copying an pasting a preexisting footnote and editing that, or simply using Writer, but I assume not everyone knows how to do that.

  43. Historiann on 28 Oct 2013 at 4:47 am #

    What is Word Starter or Writer? Never heard of them. Most of my students use Microsoft Word–I’ve never encountered a student who couldn’t do footnotes or endnotes.

  44. That’s Professor Fail to you : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 29 Oct 2013 at 9:41 am #

    […] my high dudgeon over my students’ failure to appreciate the convenience and effectiveness of Chic…  I had my panties in a wad over a stack of papers I collected a few weeks ago, in which about half […]

  45. Anymouse on 29 Oct 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Word Starter is the version of Microsoft Word given out for free with most new computers. It is definitely crippleware.

  46. Martial law on 09 Dec 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Well I think that there should be a standardized way of doing the Chicago citation or else students would be confused about the format of it. It seems like students are more familiar with MLA or APA. I haven’t seen a case where science teachers or English teachers required their students to have it in Chicago style. But that’s a different story.

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