Citation Mania in Academic Theses Writing: A Case Study
This study, premised on the assumption that students over-use citations in academic writing, investigated manifestations of over-citation in three PhD theses. A review of diverse pragmatic functions citations serve, helped in the identification of needless citations which lacked consonance with any of the functions. A content-context analysis of the pragmatic function of each citation in the three theses, revealed over-citation and superfluity in the theses. Manifestations of over-citation included: expressing general or common-sense information; using multiple citations to make a simple point; citing sources to express what the writer did; attributing own deductions and inferences to authors; not following-up on citations; repeating concepts and attendant citations in different parts of the thesis; making most thesis sections literature sections; citing individual words not ideas, unclear content of citation, independent citation of each source for the same idea, over-using a source within a paragraph or section, citing back to back, evincing citation density to the eye. On the basis of the varied manifestations of over-citation and the extent of its compromise on the quality of student presentations, the study recommends sustained efforts in developing sound academic writing skills even at postgraduate levels, and sensitisation of students to pragmatic purposes citations should serve.
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