Literature Review

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Date Submitted: 05/26/2013 11:19 PM

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Academic citations are used very frequently in higher tertiary education for assignments. Reflecting the academic community in which they are used, students learn to use academic citations for essay and research assignments. However, what is the use of them? There are varied theories for the use of academic citations in academia, from acknowledging and respecting cited authors and work, to giving weight to an author’s argument. In this literature review we will explore these differing theories of the use of academic citations, to give a clearer idea of why they are used.

A widely-held theory in academic writing manuals, for the use of academic citations, is that citations are used to recognize and acknowledge the intellectual property rights of authors, to avoid plagiarism. This is a widely-known reason for the use of academic citations, as avoiding plagiarism is especially emphasised as important in academic and tertiary circles.

Some theories focus on the importance of recognizing the contributions of past authors, and their findings. Ravetz (1971) believed citations operate as a kind of mutual reward system. Rather than pay other authors money for their contributions, writers “pay” them in citations. A well-used theory in established fields, like the sciences, is that citations are used to show respect to previous scholars.

Other theories focus on the use of citations as a tool for an author. Gilbert (1977) stated that citations are tools of persuasion, to give an author’s arguments greater authority. Citations are used to supply evidence that the author qualifies as a member of the chosen scholarly community, who are familiar with their field (Bavelas, 1978).

Another theory links both the contribution of past work-and the possibility of new work in the future. Swales and Feak, 1994, made the argument that “Citations are used to create a research space for the citing author. By describing what has been done, citations point the way to what has not been...