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 be pedantic about the minor clerical errors I might encounter in the future?

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    Hmmm. This might be a better question for the Acedemia stack. I'm not sure it really has anything specifically to do with history.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 13:39
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is more in line with Academia, recommend migration. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 13:43
  • I agree w/ the above about the Academia stack, which will more likely give you a sense of the dynamics of a course like that and how materials are delivered. That said, part of a historian's job is paying attention to details like you are.
    – rougon
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:01
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    @MarkC.Wallace I agree with you, but I think an attempt to revise the question into a historiographical question suited to this site will be an obstacle to the the OP's current question getting answered. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:20
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    I'd say that this has to do with history's "sources and methods," and therefore on topic here. On the other hand, it might be a better fit for Academia in terms of getting more and better responses.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Yes, but don't be obnoxious or smartass about it. There is always the possiblity that your instructor and the course material are right, or at least not completely wrong. Foreign names might be used with different transliteration schemes at different times, etc.

But it is an essential part of science to prevent errors through (peer) review and it isn't too early to start that habit now. With hard sciences this is about the reproduction of experiments, with history it is about sources and the conclusions one draws from them.

  • Thanks for the question. But I'd just like to make the last question more specific: Should I continue to report the minor clerical errors I might encounter in the future or should I just correct the errors myself?
    – Ray
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 22:04
  • Is it a wiki-style system where you can share your thoughts with other participants? Make a list of your questions/corrections and ask the teacher if he wants them by chapter or at the end of the course. If the teacher is a scientist, he or she will welcome the feedback, but it might be disruptive if there is a question every day.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 4:55

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