Monday, December 8, 2008

Substantiating the Unsubstantiated

I got a round of final stage (I think--that's what he/she said) recommedations back on a manuscript from an editor before the revised version is resubmitted for another external review. (He/she is an EXTREMELY helpful editor, BTW.) The final revisions concerned substantiating a couple unsubstantiated claims in the intro paragraphs of the manuscript. As I began looking for sources to offer as textual evidence, I found myself reverting back to a couple of practices that us writing teachers often tell our students NOT to do:

  1. Sprinkle "salt and pepper" quotes throughout the draft to sound more academic: Yeah, I found myself trying to find that one quote to insert with the claim and be done with it!
  2. Only find quotes that seem to justify your stance without looking at the overall context of the argument/text. Claims needed to be supported and I needed to find the evidence. Why not use it?
In case your asking, of course I went back through the works to look at the context before finalizing the revisions. I also made some stylistic changes so that the manuscript did not read like a "cover your a** with a citation" document. Nonetheless, I still think that citations practices in relationship to academic "discoursey" language are critical conversations to have not only with undergraduate students, but also graduate students, and need I say, faculty members too? When does a claim become a new concept for the field and not something that has to be substantiated? Seriously. The answer is not as simple as saying, "when no one has written about X." How do you know when no one is written about X? And if you do work with African American women's intellectual traditions in the academy (not outside the academy) you'll probably find yourself substantiating EVERYTHING!

No comments: