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Scholars Cannot Read

A very curious statistic research revealed that scholars are very often negligent in reading and with usage of quotations. When they quote other authors and scientists in their works, they in most cases don’t find time to compare their quotations with the original. This fact was revealed by two scholars from the University of California, who investigated how information is spread in different types of networks.

From the data bank of quotations the scholars found out that references to sayings of other people are often given with misprints; at that, majority of mistakes are identical. In this connection, it’s reasonable to suppose that many scholars prefer to save their time and just copy quotations from other people’s works and don’t read the source from where the quotations are taken. The researches studied the data bank with quotations concerning a popular article about the structure of two-dimension crystals published in 1973. They found out that the article was cited 4.300 times in other works; at that, wrong volumes, pages and the year of the article’s publication were given in 196 references. And despite the fact that milliards of different misprints are possible, the scientists discovered only 45 of them. The most popular mistake repeated 78 times. It means that 45 scientists quoted the article with mistakes. 151 people more repeated the mistakes without looking up the quotation in the original, which in its turn means that 77% of those who made the mistakes never read the original article. However, this doesn’t mean at all that those who gave quotations correctly actually read the work. The researches reproduced the methods of spreading the misprints. As it turned out, the number of misprints would increase only in case if 78% of the scientists who quoted the article, including those who did it correctly, actually took the quotation from a derivative source. Majority of those who gave quotations correctly, were simply lucky with it.The researches say that the article under study was a general case: the same was discovered regarding dozens of other works. The problem is that authors who use quotations in their works recklessly believe to derivative sources in the way they quote original articles. As a result of such attitude, mistakes appear and spread very easily. The authors of the curious investigations took a vow that they would always read those books which they mention in the list under their works.

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12/2008 02/2009


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