Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Mailbox: Author-Date Citations

Dear readers,

My article, “Citations Have Two Purposes,” elicited a good batch of comments. Here are some related to the author-date citation style.

-- The Insider


Dear Insider,

…The important thing is to have the full publication details in the literature list at the end.

Signed,
Kaisa Kyläkoski *

Dear Insider,

You said "In some fields both purposes can be met with as little as a name and a publication date, the so-called author-date style. This style works well when:".

I think you're not looking deeply enough. In my field, this is what appears in the narrative instead of a footnote. It is merely indicates the information that the reader needs to consult the associated REFERENCES CITED at the end of the article/book.

Also I give newbies a different, additional pair of reasons for citing sources (which I think are imperative):
a) it gives credit to the people who have done work before you (since you may be citing a COMPILATION document rather than a primary source)
b) it allows those who continue your research in the future to verify the captured information and compare it with other (possibly discrepant) sources.

Signed,
Judith Rempel *

 

Dear Kaisa and Judith,

Good point. I’ll try to fix that section of the article.

As for additional reasons for citing sources, Judith, you read my mind. Or Turabian. Merge our lists of reasons to cite sources and you have the list that appears on pp. 133-4 (see note 2 of my article). An earlier draft of my article contained the complete list.

-- The insider


Dear Insider,

The abbreviated scientific citation style works well not because of the reputation of the authors cited, but because the works cited are peer reviewed.

Signed,
Anonymous *

 

Dear Anonymous,

Are you trying to say that peer review is a better indicator of quality than the reputation of the author? Fair enough. My point is that in some fields of study the name of a reputable author has enough value as an initial indication of quality, that it makes sense to call it out before the reader reaches the source list at the end of the article.

-- The Insider

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous is right. Hollywood relies on reputation. Academia (not just "some fields of study") relies on the peer review system.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd like to expand upon the comments regarding the importance of peer review in academic publishing *as the basis for evaluating the credibility of an article*, or the conclusions presented in an article. All manuscripts submitted for publication undergo the exact same blind peer review, whether or not they're submitted by someone well-known. (Blind means that the reviewers do not know who the authors of a manuscript are.) That review examines whether the article makes a contribution to the field, whether the proper scientific procedures were followed, and whether the conclusions are logically supported by the findings of the scientific procedures. Any article that passes that rigourous scrutiny of experts in the field before being published, whether or not it was written by someone well-known, is considered to have reliable and valid conclusions. As a result, any knowledgeable, unbiased reader of a peer-reviewed article would evaluate the conclusions of an article written by someone well-known as having equal merit to the conclusions of an article written by someone unknown. Reputation of the author would play no part in the reader's evaluation of an article's credibility or conclusions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Anonymous,

    I'm not saying you're wrong about peer review.

    But your ignorance about the role of reputation in academia makes it clear that you are not in academia.

    Back in my day, I knew exactly who was doing the best work in my field. Bresenham, Clark, Evans, and Warnock were some of the names that made me sit up and take notice.

    Even today, academicians in this field know the reputations of these pioneers. Having seen the list, some of your fellow-readers can now tell you what field I studied and approximately when I studied it.

    Reputation is very much a part of academia.

    -- The Insider

    ReplyDelete
  4. "But your ignorance about the role of reputation in academia makes it clear that you are not in academia."

    Oh, but I am! Guess who's ignorant?

    ReplyDelete
  5. You may not want to hear this, but here it goes...

    The interchange regarding reputation vs. peer review does not seem collegial, well-informed, or helpful, and has probably shed more heat than light on the subject. I must say I'm also surprised by the gratuitous ad hominem attack. As an academic for over 30 years, I think the situation with respect to the use of reputation and peer review in evaluating articles is not black and white or one vs. the other. One becomes well-known within academia by submitting manuscripts to peer review and getting them published. This process involves a systematic evaluation of the research, the writing, and the logic of an article's conclusions by known experts in the field. Any author has to go through this process, repeatedly, to develop a reputation. Hence, reputation rests on peer review.

    Further, an increased propensity for reading a particular author's works is not the same as positively evaluating the conclusions in any given work. The first simply speaks to the biases (dispositions, inclinations, preferences) we all have. The latter involves a careful evaluation of the processes and procedures used in the research, and of the conclusions drawn from the results. For any academic, this evaluation should be an unbiased process unrelated to the authorship of the article, the same as that conducted by peer reviewers. As to which gets used more in evaluating articles and their conclusions, reputation or reliance on the work of peer reviewers, my personal experience has been that genealogists are swayed much more by the reputation of the author than are academics.

    (Not any previous Anonymous)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I deserved that.

    I am reposting my message with the removal of the paragraph: "Your ignorance about the role of reputation in academia makes it clear that you are not in academia."

    I very much appreciate your tact.

    -- The Insider

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Anonymous,

    I agree with the points made about peer review.

    My point is that in some fields inline display of the author's name introduces value beyond a reference number. Let me illustrate.

    Back when I was in academia, I knew who was doing the best work in my field. Bresenham, Clark, Evans, and Warnock were some of the names that made me sit up and take notice.

    Back then, if I saw an inline reference to (Bresenham, 1965) I could have told you the name of the journal and the topic of the article without interrupting my reading to check the end notes. That's the strength of the author-date system.

    Even today, academicians in this field know the reputations of these pioneers. Having seen the list, some of your fellow-readers can now tell you what field I studied and approximately when I studied it.

    -- The Insider

    ReplyDelete