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Posts Tagged ‘referencing’

I am, as you will doubtless have gathered, a pedant – a term which is actually less synonymous with ‘academic’ than you might expect. This manifests itself in many ways, the most obvious being an obsession with the defining of key terms and the potential abuse of words with a range of connotations, and a tendency to fetishise referencing and bibliography. Of course, justifying the former is easy – concepts shape thought, so slipshod or naive conceptualisation is a sign that the thought doesn’t need to be taken too seriously – and one could produce a reasonable argument that scrappy, incomplete and/or inconsistent referencing is a clear sign of lack of care in the work as a whole. But this is actually a tribal thing; this is how I recognise people of like mind and similar values, and in the case of students it is how I identify those with the right sort of qualities and spirit. The amount of ink I spill on correcting random capitalisation in book titles, inconsistent provision of publication details and the like is fully explained once it is recognised as an exercise in separating lambs from kids. I have always made it clear to my students that what really matters is consistency, whatever system they choose to adopt, and that is true – but most of them are smart enough to realise that there are preferred formats within which to to be consistent, and less favoured approaches. This doesn’t affect the marks I give, or even the feedback; I suppose it’s possible that the tone of my voice may vary slightly when talking to a student who has shown themselves to be on the side of the angels, for by the Harvard name:date system shall ye know them… (more…)

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