Why Citation Matters

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Sometimes it is difficult for students to grasp why citation is important and what it means in the broader scheme of academic life. It may seem like nit-picking to you, or you may have heard that it is important to “show your work.” However, as you are learning in They Say, I Say, academic work is all about entering into a conversation with others who have researched and written about your topic of interest (“putting in your oar”). When viewed in this light, citation is not just about formatting–it is about how you are constructing the conversation you are entering, whose voices you are featuring, and what critiques, values, ideologies, arguments, evidence, and so on, you are choosing to highlight.

Recently, many academic fields have begun to have a discussion about who is being cited in research. Scholars from across the disciplines are stressing the importance of intentionally seeking out research and perspectives from those who have been left out of the traditional/historical mainstream of American scholarship. For this assignment, you will read an article from the Washington Post that summarizes some of this discussion and engage in conversation about it with your peers.

Process and Instructions

  1. Read this article from the Washington Post (Links to an external site.) featuring work by two social scientists on the politics of citations.
  2. Compose a one-two sentence summary of the social scientists’ work as described in the article.
  3. Articulate your own view of citations/documentation and the importance of intentionally constructing the conversation you are entering in response to the article and the chapters you have read in They Say, I Say. (3-4 sentences)
  4. Post your response. After you have posted your response, you will be able to view the responses of your peers.
  5. Reply to two of your peers with a response of 150-200 words that engages their point of view in conversation (putting in your oar). Your reply should go beyond like/dislike to make a comment about their critical thinking, creativity, etc.

Bonus Reading: “The Future of Academic Style: Why Citations Still Matter in the Age of Google (Links to an external site.)“, by Kathleen Fitzpatrick


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