The foundations of scholarship: Original sources

September 3, 2019

Bowers 1964-sm.jpgI am always telling my students to find and cite the original sources rather than relying on secondary sources. In the work I do on academic misconduct, the work of William Bowers is often cited as a seminal study in the field. The problem is that Bowers’s original work is hard to get your hands on. I was able to find a copy of his 1966 doctoral dissertation, but the original 1964 book seemed almost impossible to find. The two sources have exactly the same title. Although both texts are based on the same content, it is presented in different ways in both texts.

I can say this because I’ve now read both sources in their entirety.

Thanks to our amazing librarians at the University of Calgary, who were able to track down a copy of Bowers’s original 1964 work. Through the inter-library loan system, they were able to request the book from another library (thanks, University of Waterloo!) and have it sent to the university where I work so I could read it.

It is a beautiful volume, obviously produced on a typewriter with painstaking detail. This work was a true labour of love. I so appreciate having the opportunity to read it for myself. I now understand Bowers’s work much better. (I purposely do not offer a synopsis of his work in this blog post, so as to encourage others to go read the original works themselves, rather than relying on someone else’s summary!) Although more updated studies have been published since then, this nevertheless remains an important foundational book in my field. I am delighted to have had the privilege to read it.

I encourage anyone who wants to undertake deep scholarship in a particular field to find the original works upon which the field was built. If you can’t find the books, ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian for help. You might be surprised how they can help you be a better scholar.


Bowers, W. J. (1964). Student dishonesty and its control in college. New York: NY: Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University.

Bowers, W. J. (1966). Student dishonesty and its control in college. (Doctor of Philosophy). Columbia University, New York.


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.

How to Brand Yourself as a Researcher

February 14, 2018

Recently I was invited by the Werklund School of Education’s Writing Group, which is co-hosted by the Office of Research and the Office of Teaching and Learning, to offer a workshop on branding yourself as a researcher. I’m pretty excited because this gives me a chance to combine my passion for research with my entrepreneurial spirt that led me to have a successful career as an educational consultant before I entered academia full-time.

Branding comes from marketing, but that doesn’t mean academics should feel any disdain towards it. Think of it as learning to share your expertise with people in your field, and beyond, to a wider public audience.

Here are the 5 key points I shared during the workshop:


It is easier to brand yourself as a specialist than it is as a generalist. It is normal for novice and emerging researcher to have multiple areas of interest. This works while you are still figuring out who are you are professionally, but specializing shows you are developing as a researcher. Have a clear research topic that you focus on intently.

Articulate your expertise.

Marketing experts recommend being able to state your focus in 7 words or less.  Here’s mine: “I research academic integrity and plagiarism prevention.” Don’t be that academic that has to ramble on for 38 minutes non-stop to say what it is you are researching. Get to the point and make it easy for others to understand. Practice writing out and saying your research focus until it feels natural.

Develop your plan.

Plan what grants you’ll apply for and when. Develop a writing schedule and target specific journals in your field. Ensure every element of your plan aligns with your area of expertise. Mapping out your research and writing activities will help to ensure you make time for them. Once you execute this plan, you’ll be on your way to having a fully developed research program in your area of expertise.

Stay focused.

There are so many interesting research ideas out there it is easy to get distracted. Stay focused on your own research program. The most successful researchers do not jump on every project that comes along. Choose the projects you want to be involved with carefully and ensure they align with your expertise.

Mobilize your knowledge.

Have multiple channels, but one message. Think about sharing findings in both peer reviewed scholarly journals, as well as plain-language articles targeted to the general public. Think about videos, podcasts and other ways of distributing your knowledge.

The point of all this is to position yourself as an expert in both an academic audience and the public. Ensure others know you are the “go to” person on your topic. Becoming known an expert authority on a key topic not only helps you get noticed in your field, it helps you get hired, and may help you get promoted, too.

Branding yourself as a researcher

References and recommended reading.

Marshall, K. (2017). Branding yourself as an academic. ChronicleVitae. Retrieved from

Mutum, D. S. (n.d.). Social media for researchers and online personal branding.  Retrieved from

Mizenmacher, M. (2010). Branding your research (and yourself).  Retrieved from

Tregoning, J. (2016). Build your academic brand, because being brilliant doesn’t cut it any more. Times Higher Education, (February 24). Retrieved from


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This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Is the pyramid a hoax?

August 4, 2012
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Did you know that this pyramid, that has become commonly known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” never actually appears in Maslow’s original work? Source:

I’m a big believer in going back to original sources, rather than relying on secondary sources.

Recently I was reading Maslow’s original 1943 article, “A theory of human motivation”. I was curious about his hierarchy of needs and wanted to learn more about it. When I began poking around on the Internet, I found that the pyramid was commonly cited as being from either his 1943 article or his 1954 book.

Wanting to find the original, I went to the oldest work first. I quickly flipped through the 27-page article from 1943, which was available on line through my university library. I looked for the pyramid figure. It was nowhere to be found. Maslow does talk about a hierarchy of needs, but there was no diagram of a pyramid.

I wondered if maybe it was in the 1954 book, Motivation and personality. I went to the University library and took out a copy of the book. The pyramid is not there either. In fact, there isn’t even one diagram or drawing in the entire book.

Maslow Motivation and Personality (1954)While the original ideas are Maslow’s, the pyramid is not. Someone, somewhere along the way, adapted his original work into the pyramid graphic. The pyramid is someone else’s interpretation of Maslow’s original work; and it has become an iconic representation of his ideas.

What Maslow does say about the hierarchy of needs is, “if I may assign arbitrary figures for the sake of illustration, it is as if the average citizen is satisfied perhaps 85% in his physiological needs, 70% in his safety needs, 50% in his love needs, 40% in his self-esteem needs and 10% in his self-actualization needs” (Maslow, 1943, pp. 388-389). So if we were to draw a diagram to represent Maslow’s hierarchy, the physiological needs would need to represent a much bigger piece of the pyramid.

The iconic pyramid of what has become known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” is, arguably, a mutation or an interpretation of  the original work. (Some might even call it a bastardization, but that may be a little harsh…)

Recently in the class I was teaching on technology and inquiry-based learning, I posed a question to my grad students: “Where did Maslow’s pyramid come from?” Some of them thought it was a trick question. Others thought it was too easy. In their quest to answer the question I had posed for them, they embarked on their own inquiry-based learning. Some drew parallels between the mysterious origin of Maslow’s pyramid and the origin of the Egyptian pyramids. Others said they wanted to go to the library straight away and find the 1954 book. (An electronic copy of the book was not available, at least not through our library.) Other students began asking how they could have accepted the pyramid as a true representation of Maslow’s work, when in fact it is not.

Neither the students nor I were able to find the source of the pyramid representation. This surely means that we did not dig deep enough. What we were able to find out for certain though is that the pyramid never appears anywhere in any of Maslow’s work that we were able to access and read, including two of his major works.

What can we learn from this?

1. Original works are adapted by others. Some purists argue that mash-ups are an aberration; that they defile the original work. Well, people have been modifying and adapting original works for centuries.

2. Find the original sources whenever possible. In today’s world, it is easier than ever to find original source documents. Libraries have digitized versions of primary sources going back for decades. It is important for students and researchers to learn to “drill down” and find the original sources of information. If Maslow’s original article from 1943 has been digitized and is accessible through the local library, it is worth the effort to go and at least try to find the original source for your own research. It may be easier than you think to access it.

3. Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet. The pyramid figure that has come to represent Maslow’s work appears all over the Internet. Yet, it never appears anywhere in his original work. There is value in learning to discriminate between original research and was is presented on the Internet as “truth”.

4. Check others’ citations. Maslow’s pyramid has been cited in both academic and popular articles as originating from both his 1943 article and his 1954 book. Yet, the pyramid appears in neither original source. It is important for researchers, scholars and students to (respectfully) check other authors’ citations. Do not take it for granted that simply because a  reference appears in a bibliography that it means the citation is correct.

5. Learn to “drill deep” in your research. Often we take it for granted that others’ research is “the real deal”. Part of our professional practice means that we allow our curiosity to drive our search for knowledge. Learning to “drill deep” means that you take on the challenge of finding out for yourself, learning to analyze and think critically and not simply rely on what others say.


Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read

May 31, 2011

There’s a belief that literacy in developed, English-speaking countries is “an immigrant problem”, that people who were born in countries like Canada or the US are automatically literate. International surveys conducted in 1994 and 2003 proved that was a myth. The other day I did a post about what those two large-scale tests revealed about literacy rates in Canada.

One astounding fact revealed by IALSS (2003) that tested over 23,000 Canadians, was that 2% of Canadian-born university educated people scored at the lowest levels of literacy… below thousands of immigrants, in fact.

A news story from the US shows us that the situation may not be much different there. John Corcoran, a teacher from the United States who graduated from college with a grade 2 reading level, went on to become a professional teacher who hid his inability to read for years.

This interview from tells how Corcoran slipped through the cracks, how he adapted and coped in order to have a successful career and how he now runs a non-profit literacy foundation.

Corcoran is living proof that people born in affluent countries can still struggle with literacy. He’s also living proof that people can make tremendous progress as adults, building skills as lifelong learners.

Perhaps the most brilliant part is that Corcoran has learned to read… and write. Now he dedicates his life to helping others do the same.

Related posts:

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Canada’s 9 Literacy and Essential Skills

Literacy and Essential Skills (video)


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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