Sense and References

Colloquium: Thursday, November 27, 14:00 to 16:00  in room A 2.35 (inside the CBS Library at Solbjerg Plads)

I’ll be in Leicester on Thursday, so I will unfortunately have to cancel our craft colloquium this week. Next week, we’ll make up for it by combining writing and library issues under the heading “sense and references”, which I’ll have you know is a very clever pun for a philosopher.

We’ll spend about one of the two hours discussing citation practices in scholarly writing, i.e., how to quote, paraphrase and (not to) plagiarize your sources. The other hour will be devoted to the seamless integration of reference management software like RefWorks into these practices. As always, we’re going to keep things very practical and hands-on, looking at actual examples and doing live-fly exercises. But I can also promise a little bit of philosophical discussion. Liv (and a number of the other librarians at CBS) have been trying to for years to conquer my resistance to automated reference management. I always recommend making your literature list “by hand”. But let’s see where the conversation leads.

There is an important connection between reference management and citation practices, of course. Not the least is that mastery here will mean making something that many writers find annoying much more enjoyable. And properly citing the work of others shouldn’t actually be a source of irritation for scholars. Proper referencing is not just a bureaucratic demand of today’s citation-fixated research. The sources you cite help to establish a frame of, precisely, “reference” for your own work. Your references go a long way towards determining the meaning of the words you use. Since knowing for academic purposes is always an ability to participate in a conversation, constructing a reference should be as ordinary as constructing a claim, providing support, and implying a warrant. It should be as familiar as constructing a question and drawing out normative implications of your research. It’s part of the grammar of academic writing.

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