This guide is designed specifically for the novice and intermediate Arts & Sciences criteria for the Kingdom of Calontir, your mileage may vary in other kingdoms.  While there are many ways to complete documentation, this has served me well.

First Steps

Once you have decided to enter an Arts & Science competition there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you begin.  First, and foremost, relax and keep in mind this is for fun. The SCA and A&S are about enjoyment and learning. A&S is not supposed to be a traumatic experience.

A&S projects are easiest when they begin with and are guided by research rather than attempting to find research to fit the project after it is completed.

Remember that documentation is just one part of the Arts & Science experience.   Is it important? Yes. is it more important than the item being made? No, it is not.  Your focus should be on the item you are making, with an eye towards documentation.

Also, think about what you want to get out this process.  People enter A&S for a wide range of reasons. Some people just want to have fun and to make a thing to show off.  Some enter to try their hand at something new and get feedback on their work. Some want to go down a rabbit hole and further the knowledge of their craft within the Society.   No matter why you enter, if you have the right attitude, the chances of you having a positive experience is much greater.

Sources …

When doing your research you will run into three types of sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  

A primary source is any source that has first-hand knowledge of the event/item in question.  It will provide first-hand testimony in written, visual, or audio format. Primary sources also includes extant artifacts.  All of the following are considered primary sources if they were produced in period: archives, inventories, manuscripts, paintings, letters, diaries, books, pottery, clothing, laws, etc.  

“Secondary sources are works that analyze, assess or interpret a historical event, era, or phenomenon, generally utilizing primary sources to do so. Secondary sources often offer a review or a critique. Secondary sources can include books, journal articles, speeches, reviews, research reports, and more. Generally speaking, secondary sources are written well after the events that are being researched. However, if an individual writes about events that he or she experienced first-hand many years after that event occurred, it is still considered a primary source.”1

A tertiary source is an index or analyzation of other sources.   These are often encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, and biographies.  

While it is important to know the difference between types of sources, try not to get too wrapped up in them.  Use primary sources when you can, but doing so is not essential at Queen’s Prize or Tri Levels. Some areas of SCA research are simply too old or too obscure to have easily accessible primary sources.   Just because a source is secondary or tertiary doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable or useful source. Secondary and tertiary sources are sometimes fantastic for hunting down primary sources. You are allowed to use sources from all categories.  I have also never been asked if my sources were primary, secondary, or tertiary during judging.

Where to Find Sources

A simple google search can be updated by using a few tricks to narrow down your results.  If you put a phrase in quotation marks it will search from the whole string. Entering Hampton Court Palace you will get results that have those words anywhere on the site, but searching for “Hampton Court Palace” will get results with those words in that order.  To exclude sites such as Pinterest enter -pinterest after your search terms. Wikipedia is a great launch pad to get some general information on a subject and to find other sources, but generally is not considered acceptable as a final source itself.  Some books may be available online in full or in part, such as at such websites as Google Books or Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/).

There are also a few Facebook groups and pages dedicated to research and the Arts and Sciences.  They include SCA Research Assistance, SCA Research Papers, SCA Arts and Sciences, SCA Library of Alexandria – A&S discussions with the Laurels of our Realms, SCA Creating Documentation for Arts and Science Group, and SCA Ask A Librarian.  There are also SCA Facebook groups about most disciplines with knowledgeable people willing to share information and sources.

Make use of libraries and museums.  Your local library’s nonfiction and reference sections may be supplemented with an inter-library loan to access a great many sources.  Librarians may be willing to help search their databases if you talk to them about what you are researching. Many states will allow residents to obtain a state library card that gives access to research databases.  The Library of Congress has an online Virtual Reference Shelf and an Ask A Librarian portal (http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/virtualref.html). Museums often have their pieces online with provenance information and many have contact information where you can reach out to them for more information.

Here are some tips from Honorable Lady Vashti al-Asar (with permission)

  • “https://scholar.google.com/  – this is Google, but it specifically brings you results from books and articles rather than blogs and websites.
  • www.jstor.org – An history and humanities database.
  • www.academia.edu – some authors will post their work here to make sure it’s available for free download.
  • blogs and other people’s SCA research – it’s a good start, but if their work looks decent to go directly to their bibliography. If you can’t find one, move on to the next source. If you can find a bibliography look up those sources.
  • pinterest – it’s a good start if you’re looking for images of extant examples. Don’t stop there. Be sure to take the pin back to the source website – a museum or auction site usually. Those are your sources. If it comes from someone’s vacation photo album keep looking for a legit source.” 2

  Is this source credible?

Primary sources are usually credible as they are written by people with first hand knowledge of the item or event (however sometimes people in the medieval times made stuff up or have biases), as are scholarly journals and other academic research.  Books written by historians and researchers are also a great source. Textbooks and encyclopedias are also usually a great source, as well. Do be wary of Victorian texts, however- they have been generally found to be widely inaccurate.

Websites can be hit or miss.  There are many wonderful websites full of credible information that will help you along the way.    There are also many not so wonderful websites full of poppycock. Sadly, it’s not always obvious at first glance.  If a website has many of the following properties there is a greater chance that it is credible; however, it does not necessarily mean that websites that don’t contain these qualities are not credible.

  • The website has its sources listed.  If these sources are primary or academic, even better.
  • The author of the website identifies themselves, especially if they include contact details. This means they are willing to stake their reputation on the contents of the information.
  • The website is well-written, with proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar that presents the information in a logical manner.  
  • Educational (.edu) and government (.gov) websites are usually credible.  Non Profits (.org) are often credible – although some do have an agenda of persuasion.
  •  “The date of any research information is important, including information found on the Internet. By including a date, the website allows readers to make decisions about whether that information is recent enough for their purposes.” 3

Facing That First Blank Page

Your first step in creating documentation (and honestly before starting your project) is to visit the Calontir Arts & Sciences Criteria Page.  On the main kingdom page, visit the Arts & Sciences sub-heading and select “Calontir Arts & Sciences Criteria”. You may then select the discipline you are entering.  You will be sent to a page with criteria for a novice, intermediate, and advanced.

This is the rubric your judges will use, so it is a great idea to get very familiar with it.   It gives all the scoring categories.

Here is the miscellaneous category novice criteria for documentation:

“0-8 points. Judging and scoring for Documentation is based on a graduated level of knowledge and discussion of the components of the item. For novice level, a 3×5 card is the minimum required, but more is encouraged. Any discussion beyond listing of the criteria below, on period practice, any conscious compromises or research is encouraged and should receive higher points than simply listing the information. Verbal feedback during the judging, how well the entrant understands the process of the creation of their item beyond what is written, can enhance the Documentation score. Give score based on the following:

  • Description of entry including some of the following: country of origin, period of origin, characteristics of style for that period.
  • Lists materials and skills used to complete the project.
  • Lists methods and tools used to complete the project.
  • Research and reference: cites at least one source and one visual or descriptive reference, or two of either.”4

The first thing you want to do is copy and paste the bullet points into your documentation.  These will form your blueprint. Next, insert space between the requirements. Address each bullet point as completely as you can.  Explain any changes you made and how your process differed from the period version, if possible.

————————————————————————————————————————-

“Description of entry including some of the following: country of origin, period of origin, characteristics of style for that period.”

This is based on a late 12th century doobis found in France at a dig in Lyon.  Its fluted sides and hollow bottom was commonly found in this style of doobis, but halfway filled bottoms were also common.  They would often be made of bronze, copper, or silver. They were sometimes made of gold. They would also often be painted either blue or red, sometimes yellow.  

Doobises were often hidden around the manor and thrown at pets to scare them away.  

“Lists materials and skills used to complete the project.
Lists methods and tools used to complete the project. “
[These two are just how you made it]

[Here you will lay out how you made the thing. Be as detailed as possible.]  I started with a sheet of aluminum and used a No 15 hammer to roughly shape the doobis, two pieces.  After I had a rough shape I used a No 10 hammer and a round-headed chisel to emboss the fine detail. … … … After fitting the two pieces together I welded them using … … Lastly, I painted the pieces using X paint and let it dry for three days.

In period, this would have been made using a very thin sheet of decorative metal. I used aluminum due to finances and my copper allergy.   Other differences from period would be….

“Research and reference: cites at least one source and one visual or descriptive reference, or two of either.”

[This is your bibliography or works cited page.  It doesn’t have to be its own page, but it can be.]   

Hanaor, Ziggy, and Victoria Woodcock. Making Stuff: an Alternative Craft Book. Black Dog, 2006.

Hanaor, Ziggy, and Victoria Woodcock. Making Stuff 2: an Advanced Alternative Craft Book. Black Dog, 2006.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Once you have all the bullet points addressed, delete the bullet points.  Congrats, you have fully covered everything asked for in your A&S documentation..  This is perfectly fine, basic, novice documentation.  This is all you need! More is great, but not required.  If you are going for points, you will be required to explain everything as completely as possible.  Adding a few pictures of your project as it is in progress is a great way add to your documentation.  

I do recommend you have a friend read it over to catch any editing errors you might have made, and run it through a wonderful website called Grammarly (https://app.grammarly.com/).  This will make your documentation more polished.

Points

You’ll notice the criteria page says the documentation is worth 0-8 points, out of the total 30 points possible for any entry.  With the exception of the Kingdom Arts & Science Championships, the points don’t matter, nor do you have to be judged with points.  They are 100% optional at Queen’s Prize and Kingdom Arts & Science Tri-Levels.

Citations and Bibliographies

The requirement on citations and bibliographies within Calontir Arts & Sciences is to use a standard format in a consistent way.   The choice between MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian is up to you and your comfort with each style. Online citation creators are a wonderful way to take the frustration out of making your works cited page.  I recommend EasyBib (http://www.easybib.com/). With EasyBib you can pick the style you want to use, plug in the information on the source and it will give you the citation that you can copy and paste. EasyBib also has style guides for each of the systems.

If you directly quote from any source it is important to identify it as a quote, which is most easily done with quotation marks and identification of the source after the quote.  Always be sure to include any type of media in your Works Cited or Bibliography, including paintings and photos of extant pieces. EasyBib will allow you to select the type of media to cite,  so this is easily done.

Moving into Intermediate Documentation

Intermediate documentation uses the same foundation as novice but requires more detail.

Here is the Miscellaneous Category intermediate criteria for documentation.  

“0-8 points. Judging and scoring for Documentation is based on a graduated level of knowledge and discussion of the components of the item. intermediate level documentation should have at least minimal discussion of the components involved. More in-depth discussion or period practices or conscious compromises is encouraged and should receive higher points. Verbal feedback during the judging, how well the entrant understands the period practice and process of the creation of their item beyond what is written, can enhance the Documentation score. Give score based on the following:

  • Description and some discussion of entry including the following: country of origin, period of origin, characteristics of style for that period.
  • Some discussion of materials and skills used to complete the project.
  • Some discussion of methods and tools used to complete the project.
  • Research and reference: cites more than one source and one visual or descriptive reference, includes a reference sheet (bibliography) or cites sources in a standard format (endnotes, footnotes, parenthetical, MLA, etc.).”4

Comparing some of the bullet points, you will see that the novice requirement is describe the entry and to list the materials, skills, tools, and methods but the intermediate requirements also ask for some discussion.

The required discussion can take the form of answering some of the following questions:

  • How did the culture shape the item you made?
  • Why was it needed?  Did it solve a problem or was it decorative?
  • What class of society used the item?  Did the same class make and use the item?
  • Is it rare? Expensive?
  • How did the modern materials and tools differ from the medieval ones?
  • How did modern construction differ from medieval methods? Why did you choose the method you did?
  • How would items needed be obtained? Where they made or bought by the period artisan?
  • How would the artisan have learned their craft?  Would they have been taught by their parents as a part of daily life, or did they belong to a guild?

Remember, it does say SOME discussion.  You are not required to know everything nor cover each question.  If the score is important to you, more complete information will yield a higher score, but at intermediate, a score is not required.  

The documentation requirement is a little higher as well.  For intermediate, a separate bibliography or works cited sheet is needed.  You can also choose to identify the source of your information within the text of your documentation using endnotes, footnotes, or parenthetical documentation.  Refer to the EasyBib style guides to learn how to do these.

I prefer to use a form of endnotes in my documentation, that if I were to ask an English teacher, it’s not quite correct, but I’ve never had an issue during my judging, even in the Championships.   My form involves placing a superscript then coordinating that superscript with my entry into my Works Cited page:

“While beauty standards did vary by date and location, certain themes remained popular.  Pale skin was very fashionable, as it was a sign of wealth and leading an indoor life. Some women would even draw fake veins in an effort for their skin to appear translucent.4   High foreheads were in fashion, and eyebrows or hairlines may be plucked to create this illusion.5  

  1. Leed, Drea. “Elizabethan Makeup 101.” Elizabethan Costume Page , www.elizabethancostume.net/makeup.html.
  2. Slechta, Daniel. “What Was the Beauty Standard for European Males and Females in Medieval Times?” What Was the Beauty Standard for European Males and Females in Medieval Times? – Quora, 4 Aug. 2017, www.quora.com/What-was-the-beauty-standard-for-European-males-and-females-in-Medieval-times.”

Sources

  1.  “Primary Sources.” Primary Sources | UC Irvine Libraries, University of California , www.lib.uci.edu/introduction-primary-sources.
  2. al-Asar, Vashti.  “Where to Start:” SCA Research Assistance , Facebook, 2019, www.facebook.com/notes/sca-research-assistance/where-to-start/2274663926134990/.
  3. B, Kevin. “How Can I Tell If a Website Is Credible?” How Can I Tell If a Website Is Credible?, UW Green Bay, 2013, uknowit.uwgb.edu/page.php?id=30276.
  4. “Miscellaneous.” Calontir Arts & Sciences Criteria , Kingdom of Calontir, artsci.calontir.org/criteria/miscellaneous.php.