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Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« on: March 18, 2020, 11:01:10 am »
https://www.chronicle.com/article/Citation-Obsession-Get-Over/129575

Since my undergrad years, things seem to have gotten worse. It seems lecturers and professors are using this as a shortcut to mark 300 essays
in as short a time as possible.

What makes things worse is that the institution I'm doing my postgrad work through uses a "modified"APA system, meaning you can't rely on the standard APA method.

It just bogs everything down. References and citations, yes, but don't get a damn boner over it, geez.


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2020, 03:18:14 pm »
Yes we should be like Asian businesses and just copy everything.
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Quote from: Mr.DeMartino on Yesterday at 01:40:32
    Trump is a liar and a con man.
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Quote from Mr.DeMartino on June 14, 2019 at 02:28:07
Donald Trump is a lying sack of shit


  • oglop
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 03:25:26 pm »
Yes we should be like Asian businesses and just copy everything.╣

╣oglop, 2020, waygook.org


  • fka
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 04:28:55 pm »
Enjoyed that article. This has definitely been a weird trend in recent years, one that hasn't escaped my notice. I absolutely hate APA and always MLA if possible. I'm sure there's a reason (that I could probably find by Googling it) but I can't understand why APA requires you to convert all publication titles to lower case (following the first word). If something is published using capital letters for each word, that's how you should cite it. Then you have to get into really thinking about whether or not you should capitalize certain proper nouns, when you've had to manually decapitalize everything else. Why not just be faithful to how it was actually published? Why not respect the author, editor and publisher's judgement?

I have to teach citations and referencing in my writing classes and it's always my least favorite part of the semester. I know that proper formatting is a good practice to inculcate but unless it's a book or magazine article, what they submit in their essays are rarely more than 50% correct. But you know what? I can usually understand them, and easily access the publication based on the information they gave me.


  • JNM
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 07:51:01 pm »
I see something similar in my work (Engineering consulting.)

Those without technical knowledge often comment on form and format because that is all they are able to. 

Those non-experts who actually tried to understand the content of the report usually  have more meaningful feedback about sections not being clear.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 04:51:51 pm by JNM »


  • stoat
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2020, 08:52:13 pm »
I imagine most universities nowadays have software that sorts out the formatting for the students. The last time I did an MA online, if I was citing a source in the university library, a couple of clicks would get me the correct citation. If I was citing a source somewhere else I could enter the information into some university software which would transform it into an acceptable citation.


  • LIC
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2020, 12:02:53 pm »
I imagine most universities nowadays have software that sorts out the formatting for the students. The last time I did an MA online, if I was citing a source in the university library, a couple of clicks would get me the correct citation. If I was citing a source somewhere else I could enter the information into some university software which would transform it into an acceptable citation.

There is a program I bought online that sorts everything out. It's recognized and accepted and made my life so much easier that I would have paid 10X what I did.

It's called PERRLA and I paid $25 at the time. Worth every single penny 1000 times over.


  • VanIslander
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2020, 12:08:05 pm »
Only in a post-truth world could citing your source and referencing the specifics be seen a psychological malady, an "obsession".


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2020, 12:55:26 pm »
Zotero, EndNote, and Mendely are all free reference management programs. Guaranteed that all lecturers/researchers/professors at a university use such a program.

Main thing to remember is that your references look consistent, that is, that they all follow the same structure (as even within referencing systems there are variations, Harvard in particular has many).

Otherwise I am not sure what the OP is complaining about. You cite scientific articles so that what you write isn't bullshit/plagiarism.


  • fka
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2020, 01:45:24 pm »
A huge amount of time is dedicated to teaching reference formatting in graduate courses these days, and APA seems to be constantly undergoing minor, irritating tweaks.

I've used all of the reference managers that you mention and while they are useful, I find that they often produce tiny formatting mistakes that require lots of time to go back and fix. Mendely, for example, has lots of user-generated references from which you can pull if you find the publication in its database. Some of them are formatted perfectly, but often a conversion to a different format will produce some error, and many of them are a total mess. So you end up adding it to your reference list because you don't want to type everything manually, but then have to spend ages fixing all the mistakes.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 02:03:00 pm by fka »


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2020, 01:58:39 pm »
Only in a post-truth world could citing your source and referencing the specifics be seen a psychological malady, an "obsession".
Formatting has become an obsession in American universities at least. It's ridiculous to the point of being utterly nonsensical at least when it comes to most undergrad classes. I also think part of the problem is computer illiteracy. A lot of kids don't know how to include citations in their word processor.

"Wait, someone put the article title FIRST and NOT the author's name? OMG, I'm completely confused and will never be able to track down the source!!!!"

The obsession over this and the increasing reliance on software and the constant updates make me smell a rat. This is starting to look like yet another money-making racket for academia. Pretty soon they're going to demand all college students purchase $2,000 worth of formatting software, specialized academic word processors, library access, etc. Seriously, academia has turned into a giant sewer of corruption and nonsense and needs to be completely cleaned out and overhauled.


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2020, 02:01:09 pm »
Only in a post-truth world could citing your source and referencing the specifics be seen a psychological malady, an "obsession".

Citing and referencing is absolutely essential. The issue that it's became a crazy fetish for lazy professors looking for quick ways to mark work:

Topic - Do you think it's a nice day?

Write a 4000 word essay, referencing at least 4 journal articles, 2 published papers and 4 of the recommended readings.
Bonus marks will be awarded for additional readings (no online sources).


There's simply no time to read half a dozen journal articles for one essay when you're swamped with 3 other deadlines in the same week. While you can't talk out your ass and just rant with your own BS, you can't discourage creativity or original thought be only accepting the arguments of others, there needs to be a balance.

I can't use Endnote effectively since the institution I'm studying at, like many others, uses a 'modified' APA format. FFS, it's just the same as APA just re-arranged, do you know how much time that wastes? 


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2020, 02:22:33 pm »
I understand your frustration but your "there needs to be a balance" line is confusing. If you reference without including your own thoughts/ideas that is still plagiarism, so there always has to be a balance in any case.

Also you need to consider that a lot of references in a university paper have been snowballed (taken from the reference lists in papers you have already read/cited), and of course you don't need to read entire articles all the time, just find what you are looking to reference in the article (read the abstract, then the introduction, then the discussion first) and go from there.

I think my second Master's thesis had over fifty or sixty references (that the anti-plagiarism program picked up funnily enough as all those references took up a significant enough chunk of the thesis) and my third Master's thesis had just under forty, and (due to being paranoid that something was incorrect) I just wrote all the references manually. It took some time but I found it a pleasant break from working on the actual papers. The more you cite and reference, the more used to it you get, to the point where the toughest part is spelling the author names.


  • VanIslander
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2020, 02:37:19 pm »
In 1991 a uni professor told us if there were two mistakes on any one page, including references, then the essay will be returned to be re-written with an automatic 20% penalty.

In 1994 in grad school I was well prepared for the rigors of writing a PUBLISHABLE thesis.

That was over a quarter century ago.

The only thing that's changed is the attitude of students: Why do we need to be exact? Isn't it close enough? I never heard such things back in the day.


Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2020, 03:10:15 pm »
I understand your frustration but your "there needs to be a balance" line is confusing. If you reference without including your own thoughts/ideas that is still plagiarism, so there always has to be a balance in any case.

Also you need to consider that a lot of references in a university paper have been snowballed (taken from the reference lists in papers you have already read/cited), and of course you don't need to read entire articles all the time, just find what you are looking to reference in the article (read the abstract, then the introduction, then the discussion first) and go from there.

I think my second Master's thesis had over fifty or sixty references (that the anti-plagiarism program picked up funnily enough as all those references took up a significant enough chunk of the thesis) and my third Master's thesis had just under forty, and (due to being paranoid that something was incorrect) I just wrote all the references manually. It took some time but I found it a pleasant break from working on the actual papers. The more you cite and reference, the more used to it you get, to the point where the toughest part is spelling the author names.

I understand, but what I'm finding is that there's less and less room for a student's original thought or argument. I don't want to plagiarise because I'm too lazy to cite or reference, I want at least some of my work to be... MY WORK, I don't want to keep regurgitating the work of others, I'd like to express an original opinion., backed up with data and evidence, of course.


  • fka
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2020, 03:13:08 pm »
VanIslander, I think you're missing the point. There are now myriad reference styles and different journals and / or professors have their own preferences. One journal in which I published actually had its own singular, in-house style, and required all submissions to format accordingly. (It was actually fairly similar to MLA, so not too difficult, but that begs the question... Why not just use MLA?) New media forms demand regular updating of the rules, and that form might have completely different rules for each of these styles. It's become overcomplicated and I've also noticed that it's a bit of a lazy way for professors to grade based on formalities, rather than content. I think you should read the article that Aristocrat provided for more context.


  • VanIslander
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Re: Academia's obsession with citation and referencing
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2020, 03:41:29 pm »
I understand, but what I'm finding is that there's less and less room for a student's original thought or argument. I don't want to plagiarise because I'm too lazy to cite or reference, I want at least some of my work to be... MY WORK, I don't want to keep regurgitating the work of others, I'd like to express an original opinion., backed up with data and evidence, of course.
Yes. You demonstrate the ORIGINALITY of your ideas by first reviewing the ideas of others and putting your ideas into context. It is your thesis, but your one idea has to be SHOWN to be original.

Freud had original ideas, and showed it by reviewing the literature and making his case in contrast to it.

You may think your ideas are original because you had the thoughts without looking at the research, but your ideas could just be a coincidental pale example of a previously well-developed thesis.

I can't believe this needs being said.

Become a magazine writer or blogger if you don't want to join the academic debate across eras, putting your ideas in the context of all those who had thoughts on the subject before.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 03:43:18 pm by VanIslander »