The Importance of Citations

There are so many aspects of writing that I truly enjoy. I love considering what I will write about. I love scrutinizing my words to try and find the best way to say something. And I love how writing has opened my eyes to so many different cultures and ways of thinking. However, there is one aspect of writing I have always dreaded: the bibliography. I’m sure most writers would agree that this final step of the extensive writing process can sometimes seem slightly strenuous and superfluous.

A thought I have had many times while in the final stages of writing a paper

I always understood the importance of a works cited page; proper citations are needed to give credit to the sources you used throughout your paper. However, I always thought that the specific format of the citations was frankly a waste of time. The concepts I took away from this week’s reading changed my way of thinking about citations. Specifically, this sentence from Neal Lerner’s essay “Writing is a Way of Enacting Disciplinarity”,”For example, formats that include the date in a parenthetical citation (e.g., APA) convey to readers that timeliness is important to that discipline; in contrast, formats that only include authors’ last names (e.g., MLA) convey the value that references are timeless in certain ways”(41). It was an eye-opening experience to consider the fact that citations are formatted in a certain way possibly as a means for preservation of the text. This emphasis really got me thinking about how long our writing may last. The way we cite our sources certainly indicates that we truly want our writing to last for many many years. Charles Bazerman’s essay “Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms” makes a great point about this thought in regards to the fact that we as writers do not always know who they are writing for. He writes, “Written messages can circulate from one material and social situation to another…written messages can circulate from one material and social situation to another”(36). The fact that a person a 100 years from now could be reading this article on whatever devices they use in the year 2119 is quite sobering. If, on the slight chance that does happen, I would like to take this time to say hello to that very special reader.

Citations are even a way of showing how the way we write and what we value about writing has changed. In his essay, Lerner addresses this point by stating, “Citations tell us something about the discipline’s values and practices while also recreating them by enacting them” (41). Think about this, what would it tell us about the discipline of writing if we decided to not include an authors name in our citations? Or not try to emphasize the title of the article/essay/book we are citing? I cannot see this happening, but the way we handle the small aspects of writing can say a lot about how important it is to us.

Overall, this section conveyed to me how important the citation process really is. There is a reason why we cite certain pieces in certain ways and, ultimately, it could help preserve our texts and dictate to others what we value about the discipline of writing.

Works Cited

Bazerman, Charles. “Writing Speaks to Situations Through Recognizable Forms.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, edited by Linda Adler-Kasner and Elizabeth A. Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, pp. 36.

Lerner, Neal. “Writing is a Way of Enacting Disciplinarity.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, edited by Linda Adler-Kasner and Elizabeth A. Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, pp. 41.

Wolfe, Miss. “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Citation Meme.”

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Citations”

  1. Hi Danny,

    You’ve made some really good points about the citation process. I’m not a huge fan of doing them myself, but I know that they’re incredibly important. I want to make sure that everyone whose work I use is properly credited. This is not only because of my want to avoid plagiarism, but also because of my want to respect the work and effort put in my other writers. I do not have a preferred citation, but I tend to go with MLA, as it is what I am most familiar with. Do you have a preferred citation style?

  2. Hi Danny. I, too, found Neal Lerner’s excerpt in the threshold concepts chapter very interesting! Honestly, I wish I had read it years ago when I was working on my bachelor’s degree. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology, so everything I wrote was research-oriented and always in APA format. I never understood why the different styles existed and never realized the significance of incorporating the date through in-text citations. Based on what Lerner stated and from reading your blog post, I now understand the importance of knowing how up to date or current the research or journal article may be. Scientific discovery is always moving forward, and what better way to signal to the reader how current the information being presented is by simply adding the publishing date inside of the parentheses? I am finding that several of the threshold concepts seem difficult to understand on the first read, but then often become very clear. Now I know some of the reasons there are style differences between MLA and APA. Hopefully, it will become more second nature when referencing moving forward. I must agree with you on one point, too. Personally, my least favorite part of writing a paper is the last page – the bibliography! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Danny,

    Citing is the worst! You can’t convince me otherwise!!! But, you are totally right that it’s justified and super important. I never realised the differences in styles. I honestly just thought some stuffy old panel of men decided and that was that. It’s good to know that there are legit reasons why the different styles are the way that they are. I love your meme. You’re totally right, ain’t no one got time for that!

    Thinking about reading your writing many, many years in advance is also something that I do. However vain that way be. I often think about it a lot, and the other books or stories that will continue on? Will it be Shakespeare? Will it be Twilight? And what stories have been lost along the way? Not correctly preserved or cited. One of my novels is set far, far into the future and my main character wrangles with just that concept. As most things to do with writing, there is a lot more layers than are to be expected.

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