Sunday, July 25, 2010

Encyclopedia Article Writing for Dummies

Posted by Chris at 7/30/2006 7:25 PM ...

My first concern in writing my two articles for the encyclopedia was over how to go about it.  It is obvious that encyclopedia articles are very different from the writing that historians and history graduate students do, but before starting I needed to know what those differences were.  I'd like to think that the differences were intuitive, but they aren't.

Luckily the publisher provided some good insights along with their general submission guidelines covering headings, sub-headings, document format, and file types.  This is a really good thing, as my searched of the Internet turned up nothing but guidelines for writing wiki entries, which I didn't trust to be the same thing.  The differences between an encyclopedia entry and journal or book review writing are pretty significant.

  1. Encyclopedia articles don't use quotations from secondary sources, and don't use the typical citation formats - no footnotes, endnotes, or inline citations.  Indeed, the only type of references allowed are to "additional readings" which may serve the same prupose as a works cited / reference page.  This just feels weird to me.
  2. Encyclopedia articles don't advance an argument, whether political or within a discipline.  At least in History, the is part and parcel of the writing that graduate students are trained to do - to make an argument about the topic which makes it theirs, and theirs alone.  This is one of the ways we get original research.  Writing an article and just providing information without analysis or argument is another thing that feels weird.  Luckily, a lot of the Information Science writing seems to be just that.  Encyclopedias are about description, not analysis or argumentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment