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Becoming a Reference Reader for SWG

One of our primary goals at SWG is to provide reliable references for our members and guests about Tolkien's world. Anyone who has ever attempted to become a "Tolkien scholar" understands the inherent difficulty of learning all there is to know about Arda. Often, when doing research for a story or for personal information, it is easiest to turn to the "experts" offering their opinions on the Internet.

Unfortunately, the ease of Internet publication has led to the proliferation of misinformation and "fanon" that often gets quoted as though it is part of the source material. While we recognize that no source outside of Tolkien can ever be absolutely perfect (after all, only he knew exactly what he meant to say), we are committed to providing canon resources that are strongly based in what he did say rather than what an individual researcher thinks he might have said or what s/he was told that he said.

And this is where our reference readers come in!

Reference readers are volunteers who read essays that we hope to include in our Reference Library and check them against the original sources. Their responsibility is twofold. Firstly, they check the source citations provided by the author to assure that the original source in fact says what the author is claiming that it does. Secondly, they review Tolkien's other works to be sure that the author isn't missing or omitting any information that might affect the essay's conclusions.

So who can be a reference reader? Any SWG member! We hope that this system will allow us to keep only accurate references in our Reference Library while also opening the construction of the Reference Library to our members, instead of limiting it to a select few.

Reference readers do not need to be canon experts. If you enjoy research, love reading through Tolkien's more obscure works, and want to learn more about his world, then you would probably enjoy this job. We do ask that our reference readers keep an open mind; not all essays will come to the same conclusions that you would personally, given the same information. We do not seek to impose our personal interpretations upon what is represented in the Reference Library, and we recognize that different researchers will come to very different conclusions. We welcome all views ... just as long as they are based upon Tolkien's works.

Nor do you have to have access to all of Tolkien's works. We will help you to acquire the books and resources that you need to do your job.

So how will it work? You will be added to our list of reference readers, and the next time we seek to include an essay about Tolkien's canon in our Reference Library, we will contact all of the reference readers to see who is interested and available to read it. At the end of the reading period, all reference readers who worked on the project will turn in any comments that they have to the SWG moderators, who will compile all of the comments together and offer them to the reference readers for discussion. The Reference Library staff will use the information gathered by the reference readers to determine whether the essay will be accepted and published in the Reference Library.

It is important to note that reference readers are not expected to accept or reject submissions for the Reference Library. We will never ask you to pass judgment on the work of your peers. Final decisions and responsibility for those decisions rests with the Reference Library staff and the site moderators.

Reference readers are free to choose which projects they would like to work on. There are no minimum reading requirements that you must meet; we recognize that our members have family, jobs, and schoolwork (as well as other interests and obligations!) and want the job of a reference reader to be low-stress and something that all of our members can do, if they wish.

For more information or to be added to the list of reference readers, send us an email to We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Do you have a research article or essay that you think belongs in our Reference Library? For more information on seeing your research published on SWG, check out our submissions guidelines or drop us a line at the email address above.

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