American Biography Series: reputable source?I'm unfamiliar with this series and a colleague pursuing a doctorate recently asked if it was taken seriously in the academic world.  Thoughts?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, I think the show is reputable.  I have seen a few episodes, and they do seem to use reliable sources.  It's a good way to get all of the information together in one place, and simply.  I think mixing it up is important, and not using the same source all the time.

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

Posted on

I think we're all on the same page here.  At best the series is a secondary source like a textbook, having looked at the history and done some interviews and compiled them into a television show.  If I was working on my advanced degree, I would only use them for some direction on where to study next.  Try to interview some of the same historians, go back to their sources and create your own interpretation rather than summarizing someone else's.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I would have to agree with the above posts on this topic. I think you could take some of the information and track it back to the original source and possibly find some good information to use. Also, as someone else stated if you were just going to use a short clip as a talking point that would probably be fine.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Agreed.  Credible is a standard for snippets shown in class or as a jumping-off point for further discussion or study.  As a primary source for scholarly research, it's probably not good enough.  As mentioned above, the scholarly sources are probably what the series writers used to create the series.  I wouldn't use it for scholarly research.

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martinjmurphy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I agree with the previous posts.  I use bits and pieces of these shows to emphasize information for my classes.  But, this is only one source of information. Even in my classes we use other source information, too. A person seeking a doctorate would have a tough time convincing the "academic  world" that this should be used as a source in a doctoral thesis.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

In addition to the previous posts and considering the advanced level of the degree, any information taken from one of these shows should probably be pursued independently for verification. For example, when you're using a source that quotes someone else, you don't quote the quote, you try to track down the original source. Television shows are no different. They provide their source information, so try to track down that source. In this way you have a direct link to the original, and when pursuing a doctorate, this would be preferable.

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

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To pick up on #2, especially at a doctoral level, I would recommend that no one series or approach or viewpoint be taken and studied. Certainly this series appears to be credible, but at this kind of level you have to cast your academic net as wide as you possibly can to gather as many different viewpoints and perspectives as possible.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I think it is fairly credible. It has exhaustive credits after each episode, so I think it is well-researched. I am not sure if you would want to limit your sources to just this single series or episode, but a multitude of sources would be better. One should have a variety of sources.

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