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The Modern Researcher, by Jacques Barzun and Henry F.

Graff
The Modern Researcher, by Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff, is a guide written for graduate
students of history on researching and composing research reports.#

I. Principles and Methods#

Chapter 1: Research and Report#

A great quote on the applicability of this work outside the field of history:

[As] the philosopher William James pointed out, history is the great humanizer:

You can give humanistic value to almost anything by teaching it historically. Geology,
economics, mechanics, are humanities when taught with reference to the successive
achievements of the geniuses to which these sciences owe their being. Not taught thus, literature
remains grammar, art a catalogue, history a list of dates, and natural science a sheet of formulas
and weights and measures. [p. 9]

Chapter 2: The ABC of Technique#

More on the purpose of writing and how that purpose should effect what you write and how you
write it:

Any account, report, or other piece of serious factual writing is intended to take effect on
someone at some time. It must consequently meet that someone's demands. Those demands can
for convenience be summed up in a pair of questions: Is the account true, reliable, complete? Is it
clear, orderly, easy to grasp and remember? All the devices and methods that the researcher
combines under the name of technique exist to satisfy these requirements? [p. 14]

Apart from the purpose of writing is the purpose of your writing:

[Your] subject is defined by that group of associated gacts and ideas which, when clearly
presented in a prescribed amount of space, leave no questions unsanswered WITHIN the
presentation, even though many questions could be asked OUTSIDE it. [p. 16]

Chapter 6: Handling Ideas#

This chapter contained a correction of a common quote. The context was the subtlety of ideas
and quotes.

Lord Acton does not say, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely"; he says,
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." (Letter to Bishop Creighton in
Acton, Historical Essays and Studies, London, 1907, 504) A slight but consequential difference,
for it allows the possibility that a business executive or a public officeholder will not be
corrupted by wielding power. [p. 148]

Chapter 8: Pattern, Bias, and Materialism#

A fabulous quote in the section on Bias:

"Impartiality is a dream and honesty a duty. We cannot be impartial, but we can be intellectually
honest." - Gaetano Salvemini [p. 187]

II. Writing, Speaking, and Publishing#

Chapter 9: Organizing#

A fabulous paragraph of differentiating yourself from the rest of the herd:

If your first words are "This book..." they will not be able to distinguish your review from twenty
others, and they will be entitled to conclude that you have not expended much thought on
enlisting their attention. The opening statement takes the readers from where they presumably
stand in point of knowledge and brings them to the book under review. The briefest possible
description of its aim, scope, and place in the world therefore follows the baited opening
sentence and completes the first paragraph. [p. 221]

Chapter 10: Plain Words#

More on the style of writing, respecting your reader, and thinking about what you write:

Jargon, clichés, and tricks of speech, as you can see, are not simply sets of words or faults of
writing, but forms of escape. They denote a failure of courage, an emotional weakness, a
shuffling refusal to be pinned down to a declaration. The cowardice come out on paper like
fingerprints at the site of the crime. [p. 240]

Chapter 15: Modes of Presentation#

A concise list of research advice:

1. Do not wait until you have gathered all your material before starting to write.

2. Do not be afraid of writing down something that you think may have to be changed.

3. Do not hesitate to write up in any order those sections of your total work that seem to have
grown ripe in your mind.

4. Once you start writing, keep going. Resist the temptation to get up ad verify a fact. Leave it
blank.
5. When you get stuck in the middle of a stretch of writing, reread your last two or three pages
and see if continuity of thought will not propel you past dead center. [p. 387-388]

Preface to the Sixth Edition v Acknowledgments vii List of Figures xiii PART I Principles and Methods of Research
1 Research and Report: Characteristics
3
The Report: A Fundamental Form
3
The Historical Outlook Underlies Research and Report
5
Reporting History in Daily Life
5
The Past Is All-Inclusive
7
The Research Reporter and Scholar
8
Historical Writing: Its Origins and Demands
10
2 The ABC of Technique
15
The Prime Difficulty: What Is My Subject?
15
I Have All My Material—But Have You?
19
The Practical Imagination at Work
22
A Note Is First a
Thought
26
Knowledge for
Whom?
31
Hard Work Makes Royal Roads
34
3 Finding the Facts
37
The Detective and the Clues
37
Library and Internet
39
A Surfeit of
Sources
45
Defining the Quarry
46
Cross-Questioning the Book
48
Professional Informants: Reference Books
51
Up-to-Date Reference Works
53
Contemporary Opinion Now and Earlier
59
Finding One's Peers and One's Ancestors
59
Facts and Numbers from Maps
62
What Else Do I Need?
63
4 Verification
67
How the Mind Seeks Truth
67
Collation, or Matching Copy with Source
70
Rumor, Legend, and Fraud
71
Falsification on the Increase
76
Attribution: Putting a Name to a Document
79
Explication: Clearing Up Details in Manuscripts
81
Destroying Myths
85
Identification: Giving Due Credit for Authorship
90
The Snare of Pseudonyms
97
5 Handling Ideas
101
Fact and Idea: An Elusive Distinction
101
Large Ideas as Facts of History
104
Technical Terms: All or None
105
The Technique of Self-Criticism
108
Reporters' Fallacies: How to Avoid Them
110
The Scholar and the Great
Ideas
113
6 Truth, Causes, and Conditions
117
The Types of Evidence
117
Probability the Guide
122
Clio and the Doctors
127
Assertion versus Suggestion
131
Note Qualifiers in All Conclusions
133
Skepticism under Control
139
Subjective and Objective: The Right Meanings
142
Knowledge of Fact and Knowledge of Causes
144
On Cause and
Measurement
146
7 Pattern, Bias, and Revisionism
149
The Reason of Historical Periods and Labels
149
The Conditions of Pattern-Making
151
The Sources of Bias and Its Correctives
153
The View from
Inside
157
Revisionism Good and Bad
160
The Philosophy and "Laws" of History
161 PART II Writing, Speaking, and Publishing
8 Organizing: Paragraph, Chapter, and Part
169
The Function of Form and of Forms
169
The Steps in Organizing
174
The Chapter: Role, Size, and Title
177
Composing: By Instinct or by Outline?
179
Troubleshooting after Lapses
183
The Book Review and the Paragraph
188
9 Plain Words: The War on Jargon and Clichés
193
Keep Aware of Words
193
The State of the
Language
195
Jargon: Origin and
Sources
196
Be Strict about Signposts
198
Picture All Verbal Images
200
Decide Which Images Are Alive
203
Give Up Omnibus Words and Dressing Gowns
206
Observe Idiom and Implications
207
10 Clear Sentences: Emphasis, Tone, and Rhythm
211
Live Sentences for Lively Thoughts
211
Mismatching of Parts
214
Five-Legged Sheep and Other Monsters
216
Modern Prose: Its Virtues and
Vices
218
Punctuating for Smooth Reading
222
Carpentry or
Cabinetmaking?
224
The Sound of the
Sense
229
11 The Arts of Quoting and Translating
235
Three Recurrent Tasks
235
The Philosophy of Quoting
236
The Mechanics of
Quotation
239
Difficulties and Dangers of Translation
243
Dictionaries and "False Friends"
245
Literalism and Paraphrase
247
To Translate Is to "Carry Over"
249
12 The Rules of Citing: Footnotes and Bibliography
257
Types and Functions of Footnotes
257
Footnote Form and Forms
260
Footnoting: When, Where, How Much?
266
The Bibliography: Varieties and Forms
268
13 Revising for Printer and Public
275
Errors and Their Ways
275
Judging the Merits of a Work
277
Revision: Maxims and Pointers
279
Revision: Marks and Symbols
280
The Professional Touch
281
The Handle to a Writer's Works
287
Revision: The Printer and You
289
The Final Pages: The Index
290
Copyright: To Protect and Defend
291
14 Modes of Presentation
293
Composing: By Hand or by Machine?
293
Advantages versus Drawbacks
293
A Few Rudiments for Beginners
295
The Whole Circle of Work: Editing a Classic
297
Speaking What You Have Learned
298
Heading Committees and Seminars
301
The Etiquette of
Leadership
304
Making the Most of Time
305 A Few More Recommendations 309 InfoTrac® College Edition Terms 311 Index 313