Just this goy...

Monday, June 04, 2007

I have in my hands a hot little pamphlet, something most every Wikipedia contributor should have access to, a contributor's guide to submitting an encyclopedia article.

This particular encyclopedia is a "Chicago companion to the..."; part of the University of Chicago. It is a health subjects encyclopedia intended primarily for health professionals.

The pamphlet covers in precise language (and 20 pages) all primary elements regarding all encyclopedic articles, no matter the subject matter. It is quite generalizable to any encyclopedic content.

The first element of the pamphlet is a welcome/thank you note from the editors. All readers of this pamphlet will be invited authors, recognized specialists in their fields individually selected and recruited to create a specific article. This note explains the purpose of the guide, re-iterates the purpose of the encyclopedia, gives an overview of the content of the guide, and provides a contact person to whom questions may be addressed. Immediately following the note is contact information for the complete editorial board and the project officer (the primary contact person of whom questions may be asked.)

The table of contents follows, a 50-point outline of the pamphlet with three levels.

The first page of the guide itself is an overview of key points, with page numbers for where the topic is covered in more depth.
  • General contact person (third mention)

  • Audience for the encyclopedia

  • Scope of articles for this encyclopedia

  • Length of articles (the longest class is approximately 4,000 words)

  • Themes: I'd like to quote a portion of this, and I'll address it further later in this essay:
    We also encourage you to address any controversies of broad general interest related to your topic in a balanced, nonpartisan manner.

  • Professional advice: net message, do not provide any advice.

  • Quotations and citations: Do not use direct quotes. Use inline citations minimally.

  • Further reading: NOT a bibliography, rely on sources "useful and accessible to nonspecialist readers."

  • Editorial style: With exceptions, the Chicago Manual of Style, natch.

  • [Class of articles] which are non-encyclopedic but intended for this volume. (A fairly standard element of encyclopedias is to have special elements which set them apart from their competitors in some manner)

  • Due date: reminder to follow the due date.

  • Software and electronic file formatting: A request that formatting be kept to a minimum, use Word or WordPerfect if not submitting plain text.

  • Article submission and editing: submit both electronic and paper forms to the primary contact person (fourth mention). Mention of galley proofs, honorarium.

I'd love to reproduce the entire pamphlet here, but I'm not going to do so. I am going to reproduce the outline and, perhaps, links to notes relevant to Wikipedia.

  1. Placing Your Article in Context

    1. Organization of the Volume

      1. Alphbetical and Conceptual Structure

      2. Individual articles

      3. Navigational Tools

    2. Themes of the Volume

      1. Human Diversity

      2. Controversies

  2. Putting Your Article Together

    1. Content and Writing Style

      1. Title and Scope Description

      2. Length

      3. Audience

      4. Professional Advice: A Caveat

      5. Definition of "[primary topic of encyclopedia]"

    2. Authorship

      1. Quotations and Originality

      2. Collaboration

      3. Translation

      4. Signature

    3. Editorial Details

      1. Spelling, Punctuation, and Capitalization

      2. Bias-free Language

      3. Names

      4. Dates

      5. Numbers

      6. Abbreviations

      7. Foreign Languages and Special Characters

      8. Subheadings

      9. In-text Citations

    4. Further Reading Suggestions

      1. Number and Types of Sources

      2. Information to Include

      3. Sample Citations

    5. Illustrations

    6. [Class of articles]

      1. Elements and Relationship to Topical Articles

      2. Title, Scope Description, and Length

      3. Originality

      4. Writing Style and Editorial Details

  3. Preparing Your Article for Publication

    1. Manuscript Preparation and Submissions

      1. Due Date

      2. Software and File Naming

      3. Elements and Formatting of the File

      4. Submitting Electronic and Hard Copies

    2. Editing and Review

      1. Content Editing

      2. Copyediting

    3. Publication

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