Weekend approaching, leisure looming. Going to finish that old read, or start a new one?
Before diving into those histories, please take a moment to reflect on two passages (below). Print them out. Use them as bookmarks as you go through your Civil War history texts.
Scholars must be not only competent in research and analysis but also cognizant of issues of professional conduct. Integrity is one of these issues. It requires an awareness of one's own bias and a readiness to follow sound method and analysis wherever they may lead. It demands disclosure of all significant qualifications of one's arguments. Historians should carefully document their findings and thereafter be prepared to make available to others their sources, evidence, and data, including the documentation they develop through interviews. Historians must not misrepresent evidence or the sources of evidence, must be free of the offense of plagiarism, and must not be indifferent to error or efforts to ignore or conceal it. - American Historical Association, Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct
Please highlight this part especially: "It demands disclosure of all significant qualifications of one's arguments."
Emory University faculty are dealt with under the University’s official Policies and Procedures for Investigation of Misconduct in Research. Under these “Policies and Procedures,” “misconduct” includes “unethical behavior.” “The commitment of fraud” in research is defined as follows: This includes: the intentional fabrication or falsification of research data; the omission in publications of conflicting and/or non-conforming observations of data; the theft of research methods or data from others; the plagiarizing of research ideas, research results or research publication(s); or other serious deviations “from accepted practices in carrying out or reporting results from research.” - REPORT of the Investigative Committee in the matter of Professor Michael Bellesiles
Please especially highlight the word "fraud" and then " the omission in publications of conflicting and/or non-conforming observations of data".
Could your favorite ACW author withstand an Emory ethics investigation? Does that author have the "integrity" defined by the AHA?
Some of my readers will quibble that Allan Nevins broke with the AHA organization specifically to form the Society of American Historians, that he should be allowed his own rules; so too his colleagues (Bruce Catton, the American History staff) and his students (Stephen Sears and James McPherson), and even their disciples and imitators.
Personally, I think not. The Emory rule of fraud being "the omission in publications of conflicting and/or non-conforming observations of data," is good for all, whether they view themselves as storytellers or historians. "Disclosure of all significant qualifications of one's arguments," is not just an ethical imperative, it is courtesy to a reader.
Please use these two passages to measure the honesty of the writers you patronize this weekend. Make these your own standards, then hold authors to them. It's either that or another 50 years of blight in Civil War history.