By: Brad Manock
I recently completed college. One of the things that would frustrate me the most during my college career be to write papers involving subjects which I was fairly knowledgeable and be required to “cite sources.” In this article I will discuss why this practice of citing sources adds unnecessary time to school work and why it is probably no longer practical to expect students to cite every shred of information they stumble upon during research.
What Does “Cite Your Sources” Mean?
Citing sources in a college paper involves creating a page at the end of a paper that is titled “works cited” this is where you must enter a specific number of sources. In these sources there has to be; the title of the work, the author, the date, and several other pieces of bullshit that doesn’t matter. After these sources are entered in the proper format, because of course there is a proper format instead of just stating the information, you need to do in “in-text” citations. The “in-text” citations involve putting the name of the author after every piece of information that you gathered from the work of that author (yo momma bitch.)
Why shouldn’t they cite sources?
We live in such an information-rich society that I think it is becoming increasingly impractical to cite every shred of information that we find. Back when this process of citing papers was conceived, it was much more practical to expect people to remember where they obtained the information. It takes a while to go through a book to find the relevant information, but on the internet I can go through many pages of relevant information very quickly.
Here is a shocking fact, the internet is better than books, it just is. I remember when I was in middle school there was a period where libraries were trying to catch up. They had this fancy computer search engine in each library that would help you find books. That would be like google saying “the information you are searching for is over there go fucking retrieve it yourself.” These days the library is little more than a “public internet building” for people who can’t afford internet.
There were several times during my college career where I was required to cite several sources with at least one source coming from somewhere other than the internet. Why did I have to do this? That would be like saying to a builder, “you can build this house, but for this one room don’t use any electrical equipment, only use your hand-held saw instead of your electric saw and your hammer instead of your nail gun.” That builder would tell you to fuck a duck. The only reason colleges require sources at all anymore is to make sure that students don’t blatantly cheat by using copy-paste.
Where Did You Hear That From?
Here is a fact of life, people will only ask where you got a particular piece of information if they disagree with you. If you are talking to a person face to face and you present some kind of fun fact, they will not ask about how you found out about it. However if you are discussing politics with that same person and you deliver some kind of statement with political significance, they will ask you where you heard that piece of information from and then talk shit about the source by calling it biased. That’s all politics is, talking shit about each other’s biased news sources. However if I am writing a paper about the effects of caffeine on the human body, clearly nobody gives a shit unless I say something completely wacky.
This same frustration would occur in math classes when I would have to “prove” that a problem was right. If I am ever talking with someone about math (unlikely) and they ask me to prove something I said, then that person probably just broke free from the mental institution. When I was doing these math problems I would usually prefer to leave answers and take a hit on my grade instead of waste more time to erase everything to attempt it again.
I Don’t Remember Where I Got That Information
There is a certain psychological phenomenon that makes people very unlikely to remember the source of information, only the information itself. This makes sense since remembering the source of information would take up “mental-bandwidth” unnecessarily. Where did I hear about this mental phenomenon? I don’t remember where.