Thursday, September 8, 2011

On citations

I finished reading Telling a Research Story: Writing a literature review by Feak and Swales. One of the tasks in the book gives a list of reasons why scholars cite each other (p. 7-8). I found the list quite interesting, not because these reasons were new to me (I begin to realize that it is really difficult to find a how-to source that fits your needs, level, and preferences. I'm open to suggestions.) but because seeing all of these statements together has a nice feeling to it. Actually, I might show this list to my students.

Citations are used to recognize and acknowledge the intellectual property 
rights of authors. They are a matter of ethics and a defense against plagiarism
Citations are used to show respect to previous scholars. They recognize 
the history of the field by acknowledging previous achievements
Citations are reading guides; they point the reader to the relevant works
Ravetz (1971)
Citations operate as a kind of mutual reward system. Rather than pay other 
authors money for their contributions, writers “pay” them in citations.
Gilbert (1977)
Citations are tools of persuasion; we use them to give statements 
greater authority.
Bavelas (1978)
Citations are used to demonstrate that the author qualifies as a member 
of the chosen scholarly community; citations are used to demonstrate 
familiarity with the field.
Swales (1990)
Citations are used to create a research space for the citing author. By 
describing what has been done, citations point the way to what has 
not been done and so prepare a space for new research.
White (2001)
Citations project what the writer perceives to be relevant work, 
they establish an intellectual network.

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