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25 OCTOBER 2005

Citation as a form of persuasion

"Weinstock (1971) lists 15 discrete 'reasons for using citations', including 'paying homage to pioneers; giving credit for related work; identifying methodology, equipment, etc; ... criticising previous work, substantiating claims; ... disclaiming work or ideas of others; disputing priority claims of others'. More parsimoniously, Chubin and Moitra (1975) categorise references as, broadly, affirmative and negational. They subdivide the affirmative group into basic and subsidiary, additional and perfunctory, and the negational group into partial and total. Within physics, which they take as the basis for their analysis, they find very few partially negational references and no totally negational ones – a point to be taken up in the subsequent discussion of academic controversy. Gilbert (1977b) argues that the main function of referencing is to act as a covert form of persuasion; and, in staunch ethnomethodological tradition, Small (1978) contends that cited documents serve as 'concept symbols' – 'in citing a document the author is creating its meaning': besides 'its functional, social and political implications', citation may be used 'to curry favour, to publicise, to favour one approach over another', and so on."
(Tony Becher, p.87)

Becher, Tony. 1989 "Academic Tribes and Territories: Intellectual Enquiry and the Cultures of Disciplines", Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.

Chubin, D. E. and Moitra, S. (1975) Content analysis of references. Social Studies of Science, 5, pp. 423–41
Gilbert, G. (1977b) Referencing as persuasion. Social Studies of Science, 7, pp. 113–22
Small, H. (1978) Cited documents as concept symbols. Social Studies of Science, 8, pp. 327–40.

Fig.1 CDRyan, 2008. COMMANDS. Series of 3 Digital Prints, 5 x 7 inches Atmostheory



Chubin • citationcitation as a form of persuasionciteconcept symbolsconceptualisationcreditingenquiry • G. Nigel Gilbert • Harvard Referencing System • Henry Small • insight • Michael Weinstock • Moitra • paying homagepersuasionprecedencereferenceresearchstanding on the shoulders of giantstheory building • Tony Becher

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