33. On Academic Writing – I

[Academic Writing: scholarly and critical writings, books, journals, report, dissertation, essay, research paper, articles, translations, presentations and so on.]

I have been reading a lot of academic writing written by Nepali researchers, academicians, professors and students. (Plus, because of the course in my Master’s degree, reading academic text is not a choice.) Of course, I have to go through various works of foreign writers as well. But I like reading/consulting works by our own Nepali writers as these works, sort of, exude local essence. These also have the context that I can relate to.

But, here are some of that things that bother me:

Citations, how many of them:

Citations/attributions help to make one’s argument valid, logical and stronger. It also shows how much research and background study the writer has done, this in turn validates the work. That’s the general idea.

Suppose one uses the statement “The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history” in his work, one must cite Noam Chomsky. That’s the ritual and also a sensible thing to do. It’s also the way of being honest – to acknowledge and pay courtesy to the original writer/source.

However, there is an excess of citation going on, even on common and trifle statements like – Society has conflict or – Man is a social animal. Many a times, the work seems to be an attractive compilation of citations from all over the world, lacking any original idea.

I am hoping, some day someone cites even for a platitude like “English has 24 alphabets”.

So, here’s the question:

Does the flooding of citations help authenticate the academic work? Is it OR is it not – a subtle deviant form of plagiarism itself?