Question: What are the standards for quality academic or professional history? How is this different from popular history? How do we tell the two apart? Why do the standards matter?
To begin, it can be beneficial to look at the differences between popular historical writings and academic historical writings. A good indicator that a piece of writing is of academic standard is noticing a table of contents, index, and footnotes. Since popular historical writings can have those three indicators as well, it is beneficial to dive a bit deeper into the footnotes and see where each writing got their information from and if those sources are credible. Once it is seen that the sources used in academic writings are commonly more credible than those used in popular writings, the difference between the two becomes apparent. While this is just noticing the differences, there are also standards in place for what a good academic writing is.
An academic writing of good standard exemplifies an in depth knowledge of the topic it is written about, footnotes to give credit where it is due, and is hopefully written clearly and cohesively. Knowledge is extremely important when looking at an academic writing because if it does not have in depth or correct information about the topic, then it can impact the knowledge that the reader gains as well as impact any writings they may do with the information from that source. An academic writing should also have footnotes, if the footnotes are not on the bottom of the page, then there should be a bibliography in the back to show where the information came from. If there are no footnotes and no bibliography, then the writing does not meet the common standards for academic writings making it risky to use as a credible source. If there is no bibliography, then the reader does not know where the author got the information for the writings and can also mean the writing is at risk for plagiarism, which is extremely dangerous when looking for sources for a class. Finally, an academic writing should be written clearly and cohesively, however, if it is not, that does not automatically mean it is not a credible academic writing, it may mean that the reader may have to look a bit deeper into other clues that may show it is a credible source. Those clues include looking at the footnotes, index, bibliography, and table of contents as stated before.
Academic history standards are extremely important when looking for credible sources because it ensures that the reader is not being set up for failure by using popular sources that may not be as credible as an academic one. While it can be beneficial to look at popular history sources for inspiration or ideas, it is better to stay away from citing them in works or using them to get information. Popular works are typically not written by people who have an in depth expertise in the topic that is being written about. An academic source on the other hand, is often written by someone who has done an immense amount of research and is commonly trained in the topic they are writing about. Those differences make the standards highly important when writing in an academic setting because without credible sources, one’s work may not be accurate or their sources are not credible making their work no longer credible as well. Academic standards exist to assist students in using credible and safe sources that will benefit their works as they become academic writers as well.