Monday, October 11, 2010


We always tell students that the purpose of citation is to make sure that those whose ideas we are using get the appropriate credit. But what really is the real reason we cite? Is it credit where credit is due? Or is it to make arguments by authority? See, someone else important says this, so it must be right. Or is it to show how well-read we are? What I'm saying must be true because I can quote a wide variety of experts on a wide range of topics and someone this smart must make sense. Or is it to enlist those whom we quote to our side since we think they are our friends, they should think of us as their friends? Or is it to make other people think that these important thinkers are in fact our friends and since we run in such smart circles, we must be smart and our thesis must be well-grounded? What is the real motivation to cite?