Truth in Society

April 11, 1995

Prompt #72

Acknowledging Colleagues

Completing the ACKS file should take a lot more than one session, and should involve a fair bit of reading. There are a number of specific sources you should use as sources of examples and ideas. The categories we've listed in the ACKS file include the following:

Printed sources:

Other categories:

You need to do some reflecting, obviously, on what you learned from other people, and how you learned it. It might help to think about these questions:

We think that a way to begin would be to look over the transcribed "last inksheds," reflecting on the kinds of things everyone seems to have learned. We expect that the learning described in these last inksheds will inform your colleague acknowledgements. By this we mean that in these final inksheds you'll find descriptions of and references to some of your own and your class colleagues' learning, expressed in pretty general terms. What you should do, where you can, is to try to make those generalizations specific, pinning them down to people and events in your own experience, and making them concrete and particular.

The more specific you can be about what you have learned, the more useful it will be. General statements of good will are fine and dandy, but not much use when someone's trying to figure out what they did well. It's particularly important, wherever possible, to quote exactly from, or cite specifically, a piece of writing from which you learned something. Quotation by itself, though, isn't enough. The quotation you choose has to be long enough to give context, so that it isn't just floating in space. At the same time your analysis or explanation -- the part where you talk about why the quotation is significant, what it illustrates, what difference it made -- should, in general, be longer than the quotation itself. In some cases, in fact, where the idea involved goes beyond one particular passage, your concrete explanation and a clear, specific reference to a particular document (the way you'd cite a document in a research report) should be sufficient.

If someone helped in the library or the computer lab, please explain how; if someone helped with your research, please give details; if someone had "some good ideas about something or other," please say specifically what the ideas were and what they were about, and where they were expressed.

As we did last time, we will rate these acknowledgements according to how concrete they are -- when, for instance, someone is simply named and some general kind of learning specified, it will count significantly less than when the learning is described in concrete detail. So it's important, if you want to make sure someone's work is effectively acknowledged, to be as concrete as possible.

Also, as before, our own judgement of how specifically your learning is acknowledged will become part of the process by which your mark may be raised by these acknowledgements above the minimum determined by participation.

You should acknowledge as many people as you reasonably can, and who genuinely helped you, but the number of people you finally choose to acknowledge in each category is up to you. Know, however, that the number of colleague acknowledgements you write is less important than their quality.

Finally. If you want to receive a printout of the acknowledgements of your work, send us an email message with an address to which it should be mailed after May 1.

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