Should you be pedantic about the clerical errors you see in a reference book?

Reply Mon 18 Jul, 2016 04:14 pm
I'm currently studying History in a distance learning school where the primary mode of instruction is through online delivery of academic materials called modules. My concern is that most of these modules contain minor clerical errors, which can be easily spotted and corrected with the help of other references. In one module, for example, the last name of the former U.S. senator Stephen Douglas is spelled with a letter "h". Another module claimed that "Palawan", instead of 'Palanan", was the place where the first Philippine president, Emilio Aguinaldo, was captured. The academic committee responded appropriately when I informed them about these mistakes. But should I continue to report the minor clerical errors I might encounter in the future or should I just correct the errors myself?
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Reply Mon 18 Jul, 2016 04:21 pm
Kinda depends on who writes the stuff. I am also a distance learner (er, you know what I mean) and there are occasional errors in the materials. If it's written by the instructor, I will send an email only to them, but only if it makes a difference in terms of my understanding of the material. It nearly never does.

If the material was written by someone else, and it matters in terms of understanding the material, then the school needs to know this. But they don't need to get every picayune little error, and they don't need to get them one at a time. Why not save a few of them up and then just report the most egregious ones? Since it's not the instructors' fault, can you also tell the dean or someone who might be in charge deciding what to use for academic materials? They might not realize what they are handing out is wrong.

But pick your battles. A typo here and there? Let it go. A major issue which is utterly wrong? Yeah, I'd report those.
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