I have just been reading this article by Henige, and there is a dog's
breakfast in it, in the form of an error of quotation. On p129 of the
article Henige is in discussion about a quote attributed to Sir John
Erichsen. The quote is as follows

"There cannot always be fresh fields of conquest by the knife; there must
be portions of the human frame which will ever remain sacred from its
intrusions, at least in the surgeon's hands That we have already, if not
quite, reached these final limits, there can be little question. The
abdomen, the chest, and the brain will be forever shut from the intrusion
of the wise and humane surgeon."

In discussing the origins of this quote, he refers to a speech by Erichsen,
entitled "The tendency of modern surgery" in British Medical Journal 1886
(2) p314-6, and he gives an extended quotations from this, some of which
match what is in the pages of the BMJ, and indeed cites it, although
missing the final page, something which he doesn't do with all his
Henige however writes,

"Referring to the author of a textbook on surgery, published forty years
earlier, Erichsen asserted that even though this earlier physician, John
Lister, was 'the boldest surgeon and the most skilful operator of his
time, will find that operations which [the author] would not have
ventured to attempt as being beyond the the reach of rational surgery, are
now daily performed.' In fact, he went on, 'operations from which [Lister]
would, with all his boldness and skill, have shrunk from contemplating, are
now done successfully by every assistant-surgeon of every hospital in the
kingdom" (Henige p129)

Looking at the original in the BMJ, one finds that Erichsen is in fact
referring to the Scottish surgeon Robert Liston, not John Lister (whoever
he is), and that the words in square brackets in the quotation above,
allegedly taken from Erichsen are, in fact in both cases Liston, not "the
author" and "Lister" as given above.

James Beaton
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
232-242 St Vincent Street
G2 5RJ
Tel 0141 227 3204
Fax 0141 221 1804
Email [log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From:   Barbara Campbell [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent:   Friday, August 17, 2001 04:14
To:     [log in to unmask]
Subject:        Citation Analysis Studies

The American Society for Information Science
published several articles on citation analysis
YEARS ago that should have been required reading
of every graduate student in every program in the
the country.  Alas, it seems few read the works
by the husband and wife team Michael H. and Barbara
R. MacRoberts on author motivation in citing.

A more recent citation (I haven't read it yet) is

Henige, David P (April 2001) Mis/adventures in mis/quoting:
Augmented title: citation analysis reveals inaccuracies in quoted materials
Journal of Scholarly Publishing v 32 no3 p. 123-35

We need to teach our students and faculty about this literature.
They need to be made acutely aware of just how sloppy the
literature is and then make sure they don't copy it.

Our mantra should be:  Errors lead to death when you least expect it!

Scenarios to teach your students:

Geologist misreads critical paper on dynamite and recommends use of
some substance to blast areas for roads.  Substance turns out to
be highly toxic and when mixed can cause noxious fumes.

Pharmacist misquotes passage on drug interaction - results are inevitable.

etc. etc. etc.

Barbara Ruth Campbell, Ph.D.
Health Sciences/Reference Librarian
University Library
Wiggins Road
El Paso, Texas 79968-0582
1 (915) 747-6714
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