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Citing Diverse Sources: Home

Companion Guide to English 102

Citing Diverse Sources

Why Citation Matters

Why Citation Matters

All Scholarship is a Conversation and Citation is a question of whose voices are allowed to participate. Citation is one way that we amplify voices and perspectives in our research and in our scholarly conversations. Deciding who gets to participate in scholarly conversation and which voices we amplify is always a question of power, inclusion, and justice.

Citation Politics & Citation Justice 

Citation Justice is based on a growing body of evidence across disciplines that women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are cited less frequently than their white male counterparts. Categorizations of race, power, and citation are essential to how academia distributes credit, institutional value, and decides how knowledges are produced and validated. Marginalized identities, including but certainly not limited to, gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability, all participate in the academic category of Authorship differently across these intersecting identities and have been traditionally excluded and underrepresented in the cycles of knowledge production. 

  • Citation politics is about reproducing sameness. Academia has a long history with intellectual gatekeeping. Institutions of higher education in the United States still employ a predominantly white male faculty population resulting in white male dominated research production favoring Anglo- and Euro-centric systems of knowledge.
  • Women are cited less on average than research authored by men. If a women co-authors with a man, the paper has a higher chance of being cited. 
  • People of Global Majority (people that have been racialized in white imperialist contexts as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are less cited than their white colleagues even if they have more experience than white researchers.
  • Well-cited scholars gain authority because they are well-cited. However, well-cited does not equate to quality especially at the expense of those less-cited.

As scholars and knowledge-creators, correcting these imbalances and resisting Academia's inertia towards reproducing sameness means interrogating who we cite and whether we are including a diverse group of voices and perspectives in our research. But in addition to considering which kinds of Authors and Authorities matter in scholarship, citation justice also means broadening the kinds of research questions we ask and expanding the lines of inquiry we might pursue in order to think beyond how a topic is already considered in scholarly research and in order to venture new ideas and new solutions. 

Language adapted from Dawn Stahura's LibGuide, "Evaluating Sources: Act Up." and from Shauna Vasudev's LibGuide "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research: Citation Justice"

What does it mean to Cite "Diverse" Sources?

Incorporating marginalized voices into your research process involves both who you cite and how you cite. Equitable citation practices require considering what diversity in research and knowledge production looks like beyond just the individual names attached to resources. 

Inclusive Citation and Citation Justice asks us to: 

  • Avoid tokenism. Tokenism occurs when someone decides to include a scholar from an underrepresented group just because they belong to that group, rather than because of that scholars' unique contribution. Inclusive citation that is meaningful and intentional instead reflects genuine engagement with scholars’ ideas and exploration into how what they have to say enriches your research. 
  • Recognize that scholars from underrepresented groups may speak to any topic. While some topics may relate directly to a group identity that they share, others may not.
  • Positionality: Appreciate that each individual has a background, set of life experiences, and perspectives that are unique to them. Challenge the misconception that an individual who belongs to a given group (including underrepresented groups) represents or speaks for that group as a whole.

Language adapted from Andrea Baer's LibGuide "Inclusive Citation"