Friday, February 11, 2011
While here in CA., we have gone to a number of author talks. We heard a marvelous one on the nude by a professor earlier in the week. But last night we heard one from an author--and it's going to be hard avoiding her name or the title--but I must-- who wrote a book of short pieces on a topic-let's say her theme was "last words." (It wasn't)
The book was obviously a light one, and her third on such topics, but I was stunned when someone asked about her research method and she told them that since she had a day job she didn't have much time so she relied COMPLETELY on the Internet. (I had to sit on my husband to keep him for rising).
She went on to say that her publisher, a notable one, had fact-checkers so she relied on them to make sure she got it right. She also admitted people had questioned her scholarship, but what could she do when she had this day job and only so many hours. So not only was her research not original, it wasn't even secondary. She was doing what my husband forbids his students from doing-using sites like Wikipedia for their source.
She does not even know her actual source so obviously can't cite it. She doesn't read a single biography to find out what Clara Bow said on her death bed. Wikipedia or similar sites provide her with a quick answer. And perhaps the saddest thing of all--I don't think she had a clue that this wasn't a legitimate way to write a book. Why go any farther than Wikipedia when the answers were all there. (Her day job was a high school English teacher)
Am I naive to think this is preposterous? That a well known publisher would allow an author to take all her information from unnamed sources. What do you think? Am I living in the dark ages to expect more?