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Can answers on eNotes be classified as "scholarly sources?"  Can eNotes answers be...

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kazmax | Student | Honors

Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:08 AM via web

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Can answers on eNotes be classified as "scholarly sources?"  

Can eNotes answers be classified as "scholarly sources?"

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:23 AM (Answer #2)

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This is a fascinating question.  As an institution, the academy and education, in general, always endures a type of time lag between innovations and how they will be appropriated into the learning setting.  This is probably where enotes would fall.  I think that the answer to this is that the use of enotes is what will determine if its use can constitute being considered as a "scholarly source."  Certainly, I think that the summaries written by editors and posted can be cited.  There are citation reference points at each summary and work sample.  I think that you can cite this as a "scholarly source."  Where the issue gets dicey is the posting of questions and discussion forums on enotes.  I certainly believe that there are scholarship qualities to these elements.  Much of this is going to be dependent on how the academy views collaborative internet resources such as enotes.  This is where challenges arise with interpretation.  Some in the academy and learning institutions will argue that there is much in way of scholarship in these forums, while others might point to the lack of a limiting function as to defining "scholarship" in these realms.  Obviously, checking with your instructor about whether or not they consider enotes to be a "scholarly source" would be one way to obtain some clarification.  The larger issue is going to be how the academy will come to some consensus on online collaboration and being able to cite it as "scholarship."

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM (Answer #3)

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Particularly because part of this question reflects on my own answers to questions or discussions, it is a very interesting one.

I would hesitate to call much of what I answer "scholarly."  Particularly when questions are about literature or other things that I have studied in the course of my schooling or that I study now as part of my work as a teacher, perhaps they would count as "scholarly," but as the previous poster pointed out, most of the time people expect anything labeled that way to have come from someone with a Phd.

I suppose it has a great deal to do with the barriers to entry to these discussions.  They certainly aren't as high as those most institutions have for granting someone a doctoral degree, but the managing staff here obviously expects a level of scholarship and knowledge in the editors they choose and the work they accept so perhaps it is just a matter of time and it will be accepted.

So the short answer: perhaps not yet.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:47 AM (Answer #4)

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Since eNotes is a collection of editors and experts, pre-approved through an editing and qualification process, I believe it can be considered a scholarly source.  As with any research you do online or in text form, you need to consider the source for each answer and whether or not it appears most credible for your work.  For example, while I have a Master's Degree and a well-rounded education, many science and math questions I am not qualified to answer.  Another way to cite eNotes is to cite the individual responders as experts, based on their profile qualifications.  MLA and other source citation formats provide a way to do this.

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:56 AM (Answer #5)

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Interesting, thoughtful responses about the idea and evolution of "scholarship." I think the question asker in this instance, though, is using the word scholarly as a rough synonym for reputable. If that is the case, then eNotes certainly qualifies as an excellent and trustworthy source of information, particularly when compared to conventional Q&A forums that have little to no moderation. Answers at eNotes are provided by working or retired educators who have taught these texts in their classrooms. Each answer is reviewed by a staff of editors, and the community itself is excellent at providing feedback and correcting any errors that might slip in. Students who use the Q&A forums here can rest easy that the information provided is indeed "scholarly" in the important sense of being "trustworthy."

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crmhaske | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 9, 2010 at 1:03 PM (Answer #6)

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Because none of the credentials of any of the editors on eNotes have been credibly verified, technically speaking, no, nothing on this website could be sourced as a scholarly source.  eNotes is as much a "source" as wikipedia is, and I would personally dock marks to any student that tried to source wikipedia.  Though many on here do indeed have heavy educational backgrounds, there is no way to verify where the information is indeed coming from.

It is very easy for me to tell you I have a B.Eng in Aerospace Engineering, and am in the process of doing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, but all you have are my words, and in the scholastic field, that isn't enough.

The best scholarly sources are peer reviewed journals and research papers, not Internet forums.

Were eNotes to verify the editors credentials from the academic institutions themselves, that would be a completely different situation.  Also, were an editor to provide links in their profile to their actual publications, then a student could source the publications themselves - but not an Internet forum.

But, that is all technically speaking.  Whether or not you could cite eNotes in your bibliography is not related to whether or not you can trust the information given here.  While it is inappropriate to source an answer given here in an academic work, that isn't to say the answers given here aren't credible.  I believe that they are, and that eNotes is a very valuable source of information for students who are looking for some help, and teachers who are looking for some other ideas they may not have come up with themselves for classes.

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 9, 2010 at 2:53 PM (Answer #7)

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Because none of the credentials of any of the editors on eNotes have been credibly verified, technically speaking, no, nothing on this website could be sourced as a scholarly source.  eNotes is as much a "source" as wikipedia is, and I would personally dock marks to any student that tried to source wikipedia.  Though many on here do indeed have heavy educational backgrounds, there is no way to verify where the information is indeed coming from.

It is very easy for me to tell you I have a B.Eng in Aerospace Engineering, and am in the process of doing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, but all you have are my words, and in the scholastic field, that isn't enough.

The best scholarly sources are peer reviewed journals and research papers, not Internet forums.

Were eNotes to verify the editors credentials from the academic institutions themselves, that would be a completely different situation.  Also, were an editor to provide links in their profile to their actual publications, then a student could source the publications themselves - but not an Internet forum.

But, that is all technically speaking.  Whether or not you could cite eNotes in your bibliography is not related to whether or not you can trust the information given here.  While it is inappropriate to source an answer given here in an academic work, that isn't to say the answers given here aren't credible.  I believe that they are, and that eNotes is a very valuable source of information for students who are looking for some help, and teachers who are looking for some other ideas they may not have come up with themselves for classes.

All good points. Peer-reviewed journals, however, rarely have the resources to verify credentials (e.g., a journal's staff will not personally contact a university to verify that an author's listed degrees have actually been awarded). An academic journal is considered peer reviewed because a group of "peers"--other English professors, for example--are reviewing, critiquing, and vetting each author's work. That is very much what do here at eNotes as well: each editorial candidate must submit sample answers that are reviewed by a staff member (all former instructors). If the candidate is accepted into the program, each future answer is reviewed as well. Now, we of course are going to make some mistakes and let an error or less-than-perfect response slip through: that is the price of processing a large amount of real-time content. But we strive to maintain a standard in this new medium that would make traditional academia proud.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:12 PM (Answer #8)

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The editors on this site are put through quite a thorough review before they are able to answer questions for students and teachers alike. While some editors are arguably more professional in their answers and their discussion posts than others, in general, the responses the asker receives are from professionals in the field, and therefore can be considered "scholarly".  If the asker has reservations about the credentials of the person or people who have responded to a particular question, the asker can always visit the profile page of the responding editor to see where his or her expertise lies and what sort of degrees he/she holds.

This site, in my humble opinion, is head and shoulders above Wikipedia which allows anyone (without a review process or any kind) post answers to its site.

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crmhaske | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:26 PM (Answer #9)

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The editors on this site are put through quite a thorough review before they are able to answer questions for students and teachers alike. While some editors are arguably more professional in their answers and their discussion posts than others, in general, the responses the asker receives are from professionals in the field, and therefore can be considered "scholarly".  If the asker has reservations about the credentials of the person or people who have responded to a particular question, the asker can always visit the profile page of the responding editor to see where his or her expertise lies and what sort of degrees he/she holds.

This site, in my humble opinion, is head and shoulders above Wikipedia which allows anyone (without a review process or any kind) post answers to its site.

I disagree quite a bit that the selection process for editors is extensive.  It is based solely on the word of the editor, no actual verification takes place, which is fine, but don't confuse an application stating what you've done, and a few answers to some questions as "scholarly."

Wikipedia indeed has a review process, a peer review process, which can be exceptionally intensive.  People can be quite scrutinizing when it comes to knowledge.  That said, anyone who sources wikipedia in a thesis is going to fail their dissertation.

The question isn't about factual, or valuable, it's about scholarly, there is nothing scholarly about an Internet forum where a person's identity is mostly hidden.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:40 PM (Answer #10)

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I have come to appreciate the contributors on eNotes as experts in the field of teaching.  I think without a doubt, the majority of the editors on this site take the profession very seriously - and consider more than just our initial reaction or first thoughts when approaching questions.

That said, I'm not sure that as a teacher I would allow students to use eNotes as a source for a research paper.  I've had students attempt to quote me (from informal interviews) in their senior graduation project papers.  My direct response was, "You can't use THAT!  What do I know?!  I'm just a teacher!"  (Hah.)  I guess my thought from a requirement perspective, is that the line is blurry when it comes to internet sources.  But then again, I don't allow interviews as sources either, for the same reason.

If your question is concerning direct quotes from eNotes - I might consider this a secondary source.  While many of us could certainly be considered "experts" most of us haven't worked extensively in the area of research and publication.  That is usually my line when requiring "scholarly sources" for research papers.  It would also depend on the topic of the paper and the way this information was presented.

I have a feeling this line will only become more blurry with the advancement of communication and technology.  Definitely check with your teacher on this one.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM (Answer #11)

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Good question! I share my colleagues concerns about how we define scholarly. In a sense, the main users of enotes I am guessing are going to be high school students. I certainly feel qualified to give answers based on my professional experience as a teacher and of what I expect from my students; however, I would hesitate to label my responses as "scholarly," which to me indicates that the person giving the answer has studied that particular text or author or subject at a very high level--normally PhD.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted August 10, 2010 at 10:39 PM (Answer #12)

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 I would want to consider each reference on its particular merit within the context of the work cited. If an answer from e-notes or study guide reference was cited at high school level, I would consider that the student able to consider using critical sources deserved to be allowed to cite e-notes. At a higher level, I would hope that students were using a range of sources and would use the assistance found at e-notes to facilitate further personal and critical evaluation. As has been said, e-notes probably needs time to gain acceptance as an accepted literary source.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 19, 2010 at 3:32 PM (Answer #13)

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I probably wouldn't allow students to cite enotes as a scholarly source.  For me it's the difference between expert (as mentioned above) and scholarly which would keep me from letting students use this as a research source.  This is an effective, helpful and generally reliable resource, which is different than a source in scholarly research.  I know that reflects on me and others who regularly contribute to enotes; however, I mean no disrespect.  This is the best resource for literary discussion and analysis; it is not, though, a scholarly research source.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 17, 2011 at 5:27 PM (Answer #15)

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I would not call the answers peer-reviewed in the traditional sense, but I do think that if an answer is wrong it is likely to be corrected.  The one answer policy probably does inhibit this to a certain extent.  There should be a one CORRECT answer policy!

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 9, 2012 at 1:55 AM (Answer #17)

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Post 6 is correct. I would mark down any student who cited eNotes as a reference. Contra Scott's position, peer reviewing in journals is normally done by experts with PhDs and significant scholarly publications in a field. Answers here are often produced and evaluated by people who may have pedagogical but not subject matter expertise.

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