Friday, 29 November 2013

Restricting the Quantity of Citations



Nowadays, so much academic writing is simply a rehash of other people's work. Textbooks, in particular, are prone to the vice of uncritical recycling.

Clearly, however, there is a virtue in building on the work of others. Work in the humanities has become very specialised (since the 1970s) and this means that we are standing on the shoulders of an army of scholars, not to mention the proverbial giants and geniuses of the past.

Nonetheless, excessive use of citation suggests perhaps a lack of confidence in your own thought and creativity. A literature review may be the starting point of a research project, but it is not the final destination.

I was led to these rather banal reflections having recently picked up a copy of John Russell Brown's engaging and thoughtful book: Shakespeare: The Tragedies (2001). This book has four citations, two of which refer to the work of Peter Clark, The English Alehouse: A Social History 1200-1830. (1983)

Now that's perhaps the limit to downsize your references: citation lite !


Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences (2013) ... also available on Kindle, or to downloadA bargain!

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