Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Ambiguity of Citations

It's always kind of bothered me that citations are ambiguous. Seems it would be good if there were some different kind of notation depending on what the citation is for.

Sometimes a citation is there to point to evidence for a claim just made.

Sometimes the citation is there to point to an argument in favor of a claim just made.

Sometimes the citation is there to point to the first reference to an idea, even if there is no evidence.

Sometimes the citation is there to point to someone else saying the same thing, even if there is no evidence and that paper was not the first.

Also there are negative versions of the above; ususally these are preceded with a "but see also..."

Sometimes citations are for a reference to a direct quote.

Can anyone think of any uses for citations that I'm missing?

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