Monday, June 3, 2013


Cite source


I have the privilege to review articles submitted to the Disaster Recovery Journal, DRJ.

It’s not a particularly big deal; I am one of perhaps two dozen reviewers.

I skip all articles that are solely IT; that’s not my area of expertise. For IT I turn to real IT mavens such as Ace Jackson, who also happens to be a reviewer.

This evening I read a really good article about hurricanes.

Well written, informative.

I told Editor Jon Seals to send it back to the author.


One simple omission: There was no attribution.

Who is the authority?

Unless the author is a meteorologist or climatologist, I want to know where the author got the information.

This was not an “opinion piece” such as I am wont to write; this article presented itself as documented facts.

When I was cub reporter, back before UP married INS to become UPI (before that I was a printer who often set “heds” from a California job case), I was told to “attribute everything.” I was to “report” not “make” the news, and there had to be a source. Back in the day, reporters tried to keep the fingers pointed at someone else – the source of the material.

Same thing as a PR flack – sorry, “practitioner.” At Tel Aviv University, the articles I penned always cited Professor This or Professor That.

I didn’t have to attribute anything in the mil-spec technical manuals I wrote; I was thought to know the subject on my own.

But DRJ is “journalism” in the broad sense of “keeping a journal.” The copy in the magazine – paper and digital – needs attribution unless, as previously noted, the story was “first person” or “opinion,” humble or, always in my case, “not.”

Is writing for the DRJ different than documenting a plan.

Not really.

It behooves the practitioner to cite the sources.

While every statement need not be directly attributed, the document’s sources must be acknowledged.

Acknowledging the sources does at least two things:

  1. It shows which Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) were involved in the decisions reached by the practitioner, and
  2. It acknowledges the sources’ effort; just about everyone likes to see their name in print

I’ll admit that Item 1 also serves as a Cover Your Assets (CYA) tool for the practitioner.

This citing sources is particularly important for the consultant and extremely important if the consultant is less than an SME in a specific discipline.

If I’m documenting an IT process, you can bet I’ll tell the world who provided the information.

Besides citing the source, practitioners are well advised to heed the admonishment to pilots:

When descending

From above

Be like porcupines

Making love


and proofread their documents CAREFULLY. Spelling and grammar ARE important; the practitioner’s image is important to the document’s credibility.

Unless the practitioner is the authority, a KNOWN authority, all statements of fact need to be attributed; the reader needs to know who made the statement.

As for the foregoing, I’ve “been there and done that,” so I am my own source. If you doubt me, ask Ace Jackson.

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