I’m new to this forum and first of all I’d like to thank for its existence and support – I feel it really helps you to see your own experience in broader perspective.
I have doubts whether I should footnote something or not. The whole thing is kinda complicated, so thanks for reading all of it. I wrote a paper discussing concept A in the works of B and also the reception of this problem in other scholars’ papers. Let’s say that authors C&D, whose paper I comment on polemically in my text, used a definition of A from a source X. A is a term from another discipline and B employed it as a metaphor, X is basically a dictionary of terms of this other discipline, so it’s nothing sophisticated. I consulted the X and also other dictionaries, but the X definition suits my purpose best (as was in C&D’s case, probably). So I cite X in my paper and I include less then C&D did, but it’s the same passage. Should I somehow indicate in a footnote that the same citation was used by the authors whose text I discuss? I mean, I don’t want to make an impression that I’m feeding on their idea to use this definition, I’m pointing out what I see as their flaws and I’m not giving them credit for the idea of using this X source. I’d reference them if I hadn’t consulted the X myself, because then it would be secondary source citation, but this is not the case, because I consulted X and also other sources. What I’m worried about is that no one except me knows that I did, so it’s impossible to tell the difference between fair usage and secondary source plagiarism just from the text.
I may be overanalysing this but when it comes to research ethics I’m very concerned to do everything properly.
Thanks for any advice!
Heya Inkberry, you could insert a footnote and give a short explanation. "C&D are using the same definition etc etc", although in your case i don t think it is necessary, but for your peace of mind you could do that. Or you can add an explanation in the text saying something like "for this purpose we decided to use the definition from X rather than C&D" ( if i got it correctly , might have not since i just woke up ) :))
a footnote never hurts. If I understood correctly, I'd go for an even slimmer solution, something like "in the present paper/thesis, following C&D, A will be understood as X." Done.
A side point, if I may: you should actually avoid discussing other people's work 'polemically'. You should discuss it 'critically'. Which is probably what you meant... :-)
Hi, MeaninginLife, thanks for your suggestion. I was only able to read the abstract as my uni does not provide access to this paper. I think I’ll read it if I have a chance to access it but, if I understood correctly, this paper might not be very relevant in this particular case. As I wrote, the A term is used as a metaphor and the B author is not very concerned in its exact characteristics. I (and probably also C&D) decided to use this X definition not because it’s the most precise way to describe what A really is but because it (rather accidentally) defines A in terms that are closer to the field in which B used it than to the original field to which A belongs. So this hard scientific, meticulous approach to defining may not be so helpful in this not very precision-concerned case (hopefully this explanation is precise enough). Anyway, thanks for your advice, I'll keep it for future reference :)
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