Did They Really Say That?



25 May 2014

When a clever quote is attributed to a famous person, it's tempting to just grab the quote and run with it. That's why we see, over and again, a provocative or pithy thought attributed to such disparate characters as Julius Caesar, Confucius, and Dolly Parton. (It's not that Caesar anticipated some brilliant thought Miss Dolly would have—or that she has channeled Confucius, without due credit.)

Most of us have been caught sinning in this deparment, especially in informal social-media environments. Still, it's good to remind ourselves that standards for research and writing do call for verification of quotes. For researchers in the Internet age, backtracking it to the actual book, article, letter, film, etc., in which Julius or Miss Dolly actually made that statement is usually not an impossible task. For certain, among researchers anywhere and anytime, verification should not be a novel thought.

IMAGE SOURCE: "Confucious," Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Quotations_by_Confucius : accessed 15 May 2014), citing "CC BY-SA 3.0, Unknown; edited by Eugenio Hansen, OFS."

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