Reasons For Citing References

According to Robillard (2006), students are taught that 'the primary function of citing references is to avoid plagiarism by giving credit where credit is due'. However, when it comes to publishing academic papers, the reasons for citing references increase. Robillard suggests that references:

• tell the readers where they can find the material being discussed;

• provide evidence for the writers' claims;

• draw the readers' attention to little-known or unknown work;

• indicate to the reader the scholarship of the writer:

(a) by displaying erudition, and

(b) through self-citation;

• show the writers' respect for particular people;

• align the author with particular schools of thought; and

• allow mutual grooming: colleagues cite colleagues and friends, and vice versa.

Indeed, there is a small research literature on the benefits or otherwise of making self-citations (e.g. see Fowler and Aksnes, 2007; Hellsten et al, 2007). Fowler and Aksnes report (in a study of more than half a million citations made by Norwegian scientists) that the more one cites onself, the more one is cited by others.

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