Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The reference list's a ........

I'm marking work at home. We're strict on accuracy of reference lists and the university conventions on referencing (basically how you state where you got your information from). I tend to spend two years correcting it on most students' work until they finally get that it's basically copying a template from the copious verbal and printed examples we give them. For some reason it's one of those things that presses internal panic buttons. I try to empathise by recalling that sick feeling I used to get when the maths teacher at school said the word 'algebra' but when you get the 15th script and the same error is there that you know you corrected in previous work and in a draft for this piece the empathy wanes.

Sometimes people forget to put some items into the reference list at the end. All you need in text is the surname and year. If there are multiple authors you use the first surname and the 'et al.' meaning and others. The reader can then look up the details in a single document at the end. Easy. Easy to miss one out though I suppose. However, how this one was missed is beyond me. For me (Fuchs et al. 1997) stands out as it seems to somehow resonate of the average student's attitude to reference lists themselves.

There is a view that as long as you can identify the source that should be OK and that we're too obsessed with such things. it seems to me though that without our insistence on accuracy and conventions we'd lower the actual bar even further and reference lists would look like this:


some books
a bloke I met at the bus stop
the Internet


Anonymous said...

This opened my eyes!
Hopefully will do the same to you!
Please see before you judge!



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Mandymoo said...

I have to ask Why you haven't referenced my reference list in your post Mr Compton! Well it looks like mine anyway!