“The point of a scholarly text”

From the Wall Street Journal, quoting Gorman:

“The point of a scholarly text is they are written to be read sequentially from beginning to end, making an argument and engaging you in dialogue.”

Come on. I went to college. I (and probably many other students) didn’t read the full text – we scanned for the good bits that matched what we needed to write about, and then shut the book. Even in grad school, I’d print 5-10 articles, scan for the good stuff, and be done with it.

Certainly, one tiny segment of the population reads scholarly works from beginning to end – nothing wrong with that. But a larger segment is looking for information, and when they’ve found that bit, is done with the scholarly work.

Plus, Gorman is missing the whole point about having the full text of a scholarly work online – one CAN pull out snippets easily, but one can just as easily read the whole thing. Online full text makes the scholar’s work more accessible to a larger audience.

And that can only be a good thing.