Posted by: bluesyemre | June 24, 2014

Academic citation practices need to be modernized so that all references are digital and lead to full texts


  • Researchers and academics spend a lot of time documenting the sources of the ideas, methods and evidence they have drawn on in their own writings. But Patrick Dunleavy writes that our existing citation and referencing practices are now woefully out of date and no longer fit for purpose. The whole scholarly purpose of citing sources has changed around us, but our conventions have not recognized the change nor adapted yet. Below he sets out what’s wrong with what we do now, and then sketches a radical agenda for starting afresh. What is the essential purpose of academic referencing? What is its ‘be all and end all’ rationale, such that we devote so many hours to it? A completely out of date answer dominates current practice — namely that referencing and citing is about showing (acknowledging) your sources, in a way that can be followed up by another researcher. Your referencing should direct them to the same precise sources and pages that you yourself used in constructing an argument or a case. In this sense referencing is about replicability (ascertaining that a cited source actually exists and says what you say it says), as well as about correctly assigning credit, or (far less commonly) criticizing inadequate work.

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