Opdrachten horen tussengangen te zijn, geen hoofdgerechten. De Arena. Geschiedschrijving in opdracht
Commissioned research should be seen as an appetizer, not the main course.
There is no reason why a historian should not carry out commissioned research and in so doing, like so many other professionals, make his or her expertise available to the rest of society, provided that certain conditions are met, namely: that the research can be conducted independently without outside interference, that the historian has unrestricted access to all the relevant archives, and that the individual or organisation commissioning the research cooperates fully in providing all the necessary means and additional information that is required. The historian should always have the final word concerning the research.
In ambiguous cases where the historian may have doubts, the commissioned research should be refused. This is because the historian is perpetually at risk of being manipulated for the sake of political, propagandist or other objectives. Moreover, commissioned research should always be the exception to the rule or an additional sideline because of its inherently limited horizon and scope which generally precludes groundbreaking or original research. The present trend of scientific project-based research (a modern variation of commissioned research) with its strong and coherent focus on market orientation also poses a threat to free, original historiography.
This article is part of the forum 'Geschiedschrijving in opdracht'.
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