Author: Arantxa Vizcaíno-Verdú – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

The theoretical basis on which an investigation is based is fundamental. A task that consists of compiling and disseminating coherent information and that ultimately requires a solid, verifiable, honest and updated framework. In this sense, the work of reading, reflection and dissemination of knowledge on which the process of publication of articles is based, must pay careful attention to the sources cited, since these will depend on the enrichment of the study. Moreover, these references become the focus of discussion, ratification and / or scientific progress, being considered a necessary element for the contextualization of the research.

This post examines the relevance of the list of references in scientific publications, taking the academic-deontological criteria as the fundamental axis.

A debt with knowledge

As researchers, the first step in starting an investigation is to recognize the sources, while we face a basic intellectual debt of reciprocity. Indeed, every project or study is based on a question that, in turn, is based on an event or phenomenon. This concern, despite its innovative nature, can (and should) feed with the expert criteria, reporting the work of previous authors in the area in question. That is, we start from an ethical point of consideration, where all previous research provides a historical background to the object of study in particular and to scientific progress in general. It is essential, therefore, not only to give credit to the proposals, but to the knowledge that precedes us.

Selection with diligence and accuracy

The sources you choose will talk about you. In a review process, the study will be submitted to the competent criteria of researchers linked to the proposed approach. In other words, the quotes that make up the work may become a reason for praise or, otherwise, for intellectual laziness. In fact, in the process of scientific estimation, the evaluators will submit the theoretical disposition to trial, taking care not only and necessarily of its extension, writing or argumentation, but of the quality and conceptual soundness. Therefore, the lack of knowledge about the subject does not include an impediment to the search and collection of model studies / authors, but a motivating chance for learning.

Control of self-citing and plagiarism

It is important to accentuate the already debated and necessary work of avoiding plagiarism and self-plagiarism, since these may be more than sufficient reason for the decline of a study. The appropriation of contents is not proportionally linked to the authority and reaffirmation of a proposal, but to a disproportionate and undue academic negligence. Therefore, taking up the ethical conception, the academic positioning can be threatened by these practices, simply elusive from the theoretical extension provided by current databases. Thus, an exhaustive control of the number of sources related to a single author must always be carried out, as well as to own studies.

Science that goes beyond borders

Technological globalization has provided us with a world of theoretical possibilities of national and, of course, international quality. In the same way that we indicated plagiarism and self-plagiarism as a cause of major rejection, in this case we face a common practice in scientific writing: the exclusively national citation. And, the domain (or not) of a lingua franca like Anglo-Saxon, is not a real obstacle for the researcher. Learning is a vital premise, without doubt, but to have and to know how to select translation mechanisms is a viable option as a starting point. In short, it is about expanding perspectives, to know and, of course, to recognize the work of internationally renowned authors. Because, naturally, there is scientific life beyond our borders.

The art of adapting with the environment

Finally, when it is intended to adapt the references to the style delimited by a magazine or editorial, an idea has to be clear: we must familiarize ourselves with its surroundings. It is vital to understand the guidelines proposed by the editorial team, as well as to apply them correctly and in full. Quite simply, the adaptation of the citation in text, as well as in the references list, betray the author’s concern and interest in publishing his/her study in that specific scientific-academic space. Therefore, read carefully and, of course, do not conclude the reading in recognition of the proposed style (APA, Harvard, etc.). Each entity is a world, and these formats can generate leads that require a detailed study of citations in their most recent publications.

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