Damn it. Of course my paper for DAC was a thesis chapter, or a version of one, and yes, it is actually the first time I’ve gone from thesis to paper rather than the other way. And yes, I did have zillions of references. So I’m convinced (possibly wrongly) that this is aimed at me, in the things to do differently next time list at the DAC conference blog:

Mentor emerging researchers (late PhD researchers) to present a work that does not contain 30+ references – it is a conference paper and not a thesis chapter

I was actually using the ACM Hypertext conference papers as a model in my zealous (damnit, not over-zealous) referencing. There, my impression (from papers I’ve read and reviewers’ reports I’ve received) has been that it’s crucial to position yourself in relation to other work in the field and you do that by citing people, lots of people – especially previous papers from the same conference, because that helps build the community.

I suppose there are many ideas of what a conference paper should look like. And heck, I like seeing other peoples’ references. That’s where I find a lot of useful work that I’d be interested in.

9 thoughts on “references

  1. Elin

    Congrats on your thesis, Jill:-)

    You know, I’d just ignore that incredible petty comment on the DAC blog. You must have noticed that it went to to say:

    “(30 references is fine, but when they include a range of theorists from high french poststructuralism through to pop psychology, you begin to think that too much is being attempted)”

    This leaves me a little puzzled. So comments are fine after all? It sounds to me like what was said, was that one of the things to do differently next time, was to make sure that everybody writes perfect papers that do not attempt too much at all. Control freak? Well, the commentator certainly made all “emerging” researchers feel insecure about their work.
    One of the things you simply don’t do when you organize a conference, is to make public statements of the validity of other people’s work in a tone that seem to exclude that group. The posting wasn’t addressed to the phd students or “reference sinners” – which makes it difficult to not be offended by it.

    In any case, it is possible to say “something” about someone’s work by skimming the references. Just not a whole lot. To understand the issues and determine how much is attempted, you should think you had to read the paper.

    Which is why I think you should just ignore the comment, it is not based on proper judgement. And have fun at DAC:-)
    And by the way, your picture is SuperSweet:-)


  2. Liz

    I’m with Elin on this one, Jill.

    I’ve seen–and enjoyed–plenty of conference papers with significant citations in them.

    What matters is the content and the delivery of the paper, not the citation count. I can’t help but think that whoever posted that comment has a lot to learn about what makes an academic conference paper successful and useful.

  3. Lisa

    “Things to do differently next time…”

    Don’t post the things to do differently until the conference has actually taken place. Better, don’t *post* the things to do differently, just do them differently.

    Make every effort to make all participants feel comfortable and welcome, especially in view of shifting collegial and social grounds.

    That’s what he should have said.

  4. Hanne-Lovise

    First: CONGRATULATIONS WITH THE THESIS!!! I love your picture – hold on to that feeling! 🙂

    What a relief! I thought the comment was aimed at me (yes, I’m in the 30+ club…), and since I haven’t presented papers at that many conferences yet (DAC is my second) I immediately felt insecure and thought “oh no, now the other much more experienced researchers at the conference will just by looking at the number of references see that this is one of those PhD students that haven’t got it yet, what an amateur…”
    But then I see that you – an experienced and awarded conference participant – have done the same thing and thought more or less as I did about it (I too like finding interesting work from others’ references), so I think I’ll go to DAC with a lifted head after all… (thanks to your post!)
    See you there! 🙂

  5. Jill

    Thinking about it, lots of citations is kind of like lots of links in blogging, too, isn’t it? And I’m really looking forward to the conference 🙂

  6. Mark Bernstein

    I haven’t read the paper yet — I *just* downloaded the proceedings, and I’ve been up for hours and hours and I’m in Holland of all places — but obviously I’m in favor of footnotes and references.

    ESPECIALLY at DAC, which attracts practitioners who are not always as interested in history and background as they ought to be.

    ESPECIALLY this year, when the exLiterature folks are running around trying to convince people that everything written before 1999 (or whenever *their* first important work appeared) is “endangered” or antique or too hard on their eyes or has too many bristles.

    Yes, some people overuse references to impress readers, or to build alliances. But, on the whole, references help.

  7. Lisa

    You know, reading the subsequent posts I’m beginning to think the original complaint was a mostly logistic one–perhaps the citations were just one more detail in the galactically irritating task of prepping the papers for mass consumption?

  8. AKMA

    Congratulations, Jill! Three cheers on the thesis!

    As for the conference blog, it’s not a reflection on you; it’s a heedless comment, evidently made under some stress, which doesn’t even hold up after thought (the writer himself seems to be of two minds on the point). It shouldn’t have been made in the first place; it shouldn’t have been made public at all. And picking on recent graduates for not meeting unstated expectations reflects on the organizer, not on you.

  9. mamamusings

    Back for long enough to say that I’m _very_ glad I didn’t submit a paper to the Digital Arts and

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