Blog Post

The scholar's courtesy

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 25 August 2003



The scholar's courtesy
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Posted DateMonday 25 August 2003 10:58 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
CategoriesKnowledge Sharing

A few weeks back I met with a very interesting woman called Shane Godbolt who works for the National Heatth Service (NHS) in the UK.

As she valued my website and newsletter - she brought me several 'knowledge gifts' in return as a 'thank you'. This is just what I love about Knowledge Sharing - you get back as mcuh as you give - if not more Smile!

Amongst these gifts was a beautiful little story about the importance of acknowledging the sources of your ideas - regardless of whether they are in 'print' or not.

I received an early lesson about acknowledging others from my mentor George Spindler. The Spindlers were houseguests visiting me after I took a full-time academic appointment upon completion of doctoral studies. I eagerly shared an early draft of a chapter I had been invited to write, tentatively entitled "Concomitant Learning".

Spindler was up early the next morning, but to my disappointment I found him looking through materials he had written (my library contained many of them) rather than reading my new draft. He had already read and enjoyed my article, he explained, but he expressed disappointment at my failure to credit him as a source of inspiration for the concept that provided my title and rationale. He had been searching for the citation I should have made. "But you've never written about it ," I explained, reaffirming what I already knew and he was beginning to suspect. "I got the idea from you, but you only suggested it in a seminar. There was no publication to cite."

Technically (and luckily ) I was correct, as his search revealed. That wasn't the entire lesson however. "No matter where or how you encounter them," he counseled, "always give credit for the sources of your ideas. It's so easy to do so : so appropriate to good scholarship ... and so appreciated."

Never again have I limited my acknowledgements only to people whose ideas are in print. And I, too, have "so appreciated" that courtesy when extended to me!

Harry F. Wolcott, Writing up qualitative research, 1990, pp.72-73). Quoted in Blaise Cronin, The scholars courtesy, the role of acknowledgement in the primary communication process. Taylor Graham 1995, p122.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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