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Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Fuss About Referencing Styles?

I've started using Zotero, and am getting the hang of it and digging it. One interesting thing: Zotero has converted me to one of its referencing styles, because I couldn't find the one I really liked and had been using in one of its lists. (I'm not saying it's not there: I just got tired of looking!)

In any case, looking back, I'm amazed at how much fuss my professors made about what reference format to use on undergraduate papers. (And let me tell you, that took some looking back to see that far into the past!) As someone who publishes regularly now, I only once have had a journal tell me to re-submit a paper because my references were not in their preferred format. My response? I just submitted it somewhere else. I mean, really... I don't mind reformatting my references for you if you accept the paper, but you claim you need the references in your publication format in order to have it refereed? The referees are going to say, "Whoa, I can't decide whether to recommend accepting this paper: the references are in APA format!" Yeah, you find someone else to be your dooforhim seeboy.

In any case, what I tell my students is simply, "Make sure your style is consistent throughout, and that all the information I need to find your source is included." Am I shortchanging them by not being stricter about this? Discuss.

1 comment:

  1. No, you're teaching them to pay attention to the things that really matter. I'm sure many professors will let syntax errors pass (if, indeed, they are able to find them!) while making a fuss about referencing styles and other unimportant details. When I was a student, there was also that ridiculous rule that there must be text between two titles. So, this wasn't allowed:

    LEVEL 1 HEADING

    Level 2 Heading

    Bla bla bla...

    Level 2 Heading

    Bla bla bla...

    No, you had to do something like this.

    LEVEL 1 HEADING

    This section explains bla bla bla... (never mind that this hardly adds anything to what the title already said, or that you're repeating things; this is just to fill space because having two headings in succession is "ugly").

    Level 2 Heading

    Bla bla bla...

    Level 2 Heading

    Bla bla bla...

    ReplyDelete