Professional integrity in the practice of history requires awareness of ones own biases and a readiness to follow sound method and analysis wherever they may lead. Historians should document their findings and be prepared to make available their sources, evidence, and data, including any documentation they develop through interviews. Historians should not misrepresent their sources. They should report their findings as accurately as possible and not omit evidence that runs counter to their own interpretation. They should not commit plagiarism. They should oppose false or erroneous use of evidence, along with any efforts to ignore or conceal such false or erroneous use. Historians should acknowledge the receipt of any financial support, sponsorship, or unique privileges (including special access to research material) related to their research, especially when such privileges could bias their research findings.
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They should honor the historical record. They should document their sources. They should acknowledge their debts to the work of salon other scholars. They should respect and welcome divergent points of view even as they argue and subject those views to critical scrutiny. They should remember that our collective enterprise depends on mutual trust. And they should never betray that trust. Scholarship Scholarship— the discovery, exchange, interpretation, and presentation of information about the past get —is basic to the professional practice of history. It depends on the collection and preservation of historical documents, artifacts, and other source materials in a variety of institutional settings ranging from libraries to archives to museums to government agencies to private organizations. Historians are committed to protecting significant historical evidence wherever it resides. Scholarship likewise depends on the open dissemination of historical knowledge via many different channels of communication: books, articles, classrooms, exhibits, films, historic sites, museums, legal memoranda, testimony, and many other ways. The free exchange of information about the past is dear to historians.
This crucial insight underpins some of the most important shared values that define the professional conduct of historians. They believe in vigorous debate, but they business also believe in civility. They rely on their own perspectives as they probe the past for meaning, but they also subject those perspectives to critical scrutiny by testing them against the views of others. Historians celebrate intellectual communities governed by mutual respect and constructive criticism. The preeminent value of such communities is reasoned discourse—the continuous colloquy among historians holding diverse points of view who learn from each other as they pursue topics of mutual interest. A commitment to such discourse—balancing fair and honest criticism with tolerance and openness to different ideas—makes possible the fruitful exchange of views, opinions, and knowledge. This being the case, it is worth repeating that a great many dilemmas associated with the professional practice of history can be resolved by returning to the core values that the preceding paragraphs have sought to sketch. Historians should practice their craft with integrity.
Everyone who comes to the study of history brings with them a host of identities, experiences, and interests that cannot help but affect the questions they ask of the past and the sources they consult to answer those questions. No single objective or universal account could ever put an end to this endless creative dialogue within and between the past and the present. For this reason, historians often disagree and argue with each other. That historians can sometimes differ quite vehemently not just about interpretations but even about the basic facts of what happened in the past is sometimes troubling to non-historians, especially if they imagine that history consists of a universally agreed-upon accounting of stable facts and known. But universal agreement is not a condition to which historians typically aspire. Instead, we understand that interpretive disagreements are vital to the creative ferment of our profession, and can in fact contribute to some of our most original and valuable assignment insights. Disagreements and uncertainties enrich our discipline and are the source of its liveliness and its scholarly improvement. In contesting each others interpretations, professional historians recognize that the resulting disagreements can deepen and enrich historical understanding by generating new questions, new arguments, and new lines of investigation.
Every work of history articulates a particular, limited perspective on the past. Historians hold this view not because they believe that all interpretations are equally valid, or that nothing can ever be known about the past, or that facts do not matter. History would be pointless if such claims were true, since its most basic premise is that within certain limits we can indeed know and make sense of past worlds and former times that now exist only as remembered traces in the present. But the very nature of our discipline means that historians also understand that all knowledge is situated in time and place, that all interpretations express a point of view, and that no mortal mind can ever aspire to omniscience. Because the record of the past is so fragmentary, absolute historical knowledge is denied. Furthermore, the different peoples whose past lives we seek to understand held views of their lives that were often very different from each other—and from our own. Doing justice to those views means to some extent trying (never wholly successfully) to see their worlds through their eyes. This is especially true when people in the past disagreed or came into conflict with each other, since any adequate understanding of their world must somehow encompass their disagreements and competing points of view within a broader context. Multiple, conflicting perspectives are among the truths of history.
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Finally, the trail of evidence left by business any single work of history becomes a key starting point for subsequent investigations of the same subject, and thus makes a critical contribution to our collective capacity to ask and answer new questions about the past. For all these reasons, historians pride themselves on the accuracy with which they use and document sources. The sloppier their apparatus, the harder it is for other historians to trust their work. The trail of evidence in bibliographies, notes, museum catalogs, databases, and other forms of scholarly apparatus is crucial not just for documenting the primary sources murray on which a work of history depends, but the secondary sources as well. Practicing history with integrity means acknowledging ones debts to the work of other historians.
To copy the work of another and claim it for ones own is plagiarism—an act historians abhor. Plagiarism violates the historical record by failing to reveal the secondary sources that have contributed to a given line of argument. It is a form of fraud, and betrays the trust on which the historical profession depends. Much more will be said about it later in this. Among the core principles of the historical profession that can seem counterintuitive to non-historians is the conviction, very widely if not universally shared among historians since the 19th century, that practicing history with integrity does not mean having no point of view.
This distinction between primary and secondary sources is among the most fundamental that historians make. Drawing the boundary between them is a good deal more complicated than it might seem, since determining whether a document is primary or secondary largely depends on the questions one asks. At the most basic level, though, the professional practice of history means respecting the integrity of primary and secondary sources while subjecting them to critical scrutiny and contributing in a fair-minded way to ongoing scholarly and public debates over what those sources tell us about. A growing proportion of the records of recent history are created and preserved in digital form, which brings new problems for archivists and historians. Historians should be aware of the challenges and opportunities presented by these new formats. Honoring the historical record also means leaving a clear trail for subsequent historians to follow.
Any changes to a primary source or published secondary work, whether digital or print, should be noted. The ease with which digitally preserved records are reproduced and accessed facilitates this practice but makes accurate citation even more vital. This is why scholarly apparatus in the form of bibliographies and annotations (and associated institutional repositories like libraries, archives, and museums) is so essential to the professional practice of history. Such apparatus is valuable for many reasons. It enables other historians to retrace the steps in an argument to make sure those steps are justified by the sources. A proper apparatus also offers readers the opportunity to indicate gaps in the historical record that might cast doubt on a given interpretation. Knowing that trust is ultimately more important than winning a debate for the wrong reasons, professional historians are as interested in defining the limits and uncertainties of their own arguments as they are in persuading others that those arguments are correct.
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Although historians disagree with each other about many things, they father's do know what they trust and respect in each others work. All historians believe in honoring the integrity of the historical record. They do not fabricate evidence. Forgery and fraud violate the most basic foundations on which historians construct their interpretations of the past. An undetected counterfeit undermines not just the historical arguments of the forger, but all subsequent scholarship that relies on the forgers work. Those who invent, alter, ignore, remove, or destroy evidence of any kind make it difficult for any serious historian ever wholly to trust their work again. We honor the historical record, but understand that its interpretation constantly evolves as historians analyze primary documents in light of the ever-expanding body of secondary literature that places those documents in a larger context. By documents, historians typically mean all forms of evidence—not just written texts, but artifacts, images, video, statistics, oral recollections, the built and natural environment, and many other things—that have survived as records of former times. By secondary literature, we typically mean all subsequent interpretations of those former times based on the evidence contained in primary documents.
These shared values for conducting and assessing research, developing and evaluating interpretations, communicating new knowledge, navigating ethical dilemmas, and, not least, telling stories about the past, define the professional practice of history. Shared Values of Historians, historians strive constantly to improve our collective and diverse understanding of the past through a complex process of critical dialogue —with each other, with the wider public, and with the historical record—in which we explore former lives and diverse worlds. Incorporating multiple schools of history and hitherto underrepresented points of view is critical to ensuring the integrity of our scholarship and historical practice. Historians resume cannot successfully do this work without mutual trust and respect. By practicing their craft with integrity, historians acquire a reputation for trustworthiness that is arguably their single most precious professional asset. The trust and respect both of ones peers and of the public at large are among the greatest and most hard-won achievements that any historian can attain. It is foolish indeed to put them at risk.
All manner of people can and do produce good history. Professional historians are wise to remember that they will never have a monopoly on their own discipline, and that this is much more a strength than a weakness. The openness of the discipline is among its most attractive features, perennially renewing it and making it relevant to new constituencies. What, then, distinguishes a professional historian from everyone else? Membership in this profession is defined by self-conscious identification with a community of historians who are collectively engaged in investigating and interpreting the past as a matter of disciplined learned practice. Historians work in an extraordinary range of settings: in museums and libraries and government agencies, in schools and academic institutions, in corporations and non-profit organizations. Some earn their living primarily from employment related to the past; some practice history while supporting themselves in other ways. Whatever the venue in which they work, though, professional historians share certain core values that guide their activities and inform their judgments as they seek to enrich our collective understanding of the past.
Statement address questions about employment that revelation vary according to the different institutional settings in which historians perform their work. Others address forms of professional misconduct that are especially troubling to historians. And some seek to identify a core set of shared values that professional historians strive to honor in the course of their work. The Profession of History, history is the never-ending process whereby people seek to understand the past and its many meanings. The institutional and intellectual forms of historys dialogue with the past have changed enormously over time, but the dialogue itself has been part of the human experience for millennia. We all interpret and narrate the past, which is to say that we all participate in making history. It is among our most fundamental tools for understanding ourselves and the world around. Professional historians benefit enormously from this shared human fascination for the past. Few fields are more accessible or engaging to members of the public.
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In Lists: Top 2000 English words, job hunting terms, employment, more. Synonyms: owner, manager, proprietor, patron, management, more. Collocations: employer insurance, contributions, rights, protection, an employer of farm, stable, agricultural workers, the ex, former, current, present employer, more. Download a pdf version, the Profession of History, shared Values of Historians. Scholarship, plagiarism, teaching, history in the public realm, employment. Reputation and Trust, additional guidance, wholly revised in 2005 from an earlier statement adopted may 1987; amended may 1990, may 1995, june 1996, january and may 1999, may 2000, june 2001, january 2003, january 2011, january 2017, and January and June 2018. This, statement on Standards of Professional Conduct addresses dilemmas and concerns about the practice of history that historians have regularly brought to the American Historical Association the seeking guidance and counsel. Some of the most important sections of this.