Reasons for citation; why would you cite an author or the work?

What are the reasons and motivations for citing the work of others or yourself?  Are all citations equal? I want to list as many reasons as I can find.

Following Lena Lindgren I will distinguish 3 kinds of reasons:  Publication dependent, author dependent or other reasons. I will use Lena’s set as base set but I will add some more reasons as I collect them along the way.

Publication-dependent reasons

  1. Identify related body of work
  2. earlier work on which current work builds
  3. Best/most relevant work on the subject
  4. Substantiate claims/establish precedence
  5. No other sources of data
  6. Using/giving credit to ideas, concepts, theories, methodology, and empirical findings by others.
  7. Identifying original publications in which an idea or concept was discussed, ‘classics’.
  8. Mentions of other works (‘see also’, ‘see for example’) without further reference.
  9. The cited publication is an overview in the field.
  10. The content of the cited publication is of a high quality.
  11. Criticizing the work of others.
  12. Providing background reading, to give ‘completeness’.
  13. Substantiating, legitimating own statements or assumptions.
  14. Alerting to forthcoming work.
  15. The cited publication is frequently cited by other authors in the field.
  16. The cited publication has been seriously criticized by other authors in the field.
  17. The cited publication is a recent one on a ‘hot’ topic.
  18. Critically analyze/correct earlier work
  19. Of equally valid sources, chose this one
  20. Ease of access to the cited work

Author-dependent reasons

  1. Establish writer’s authority in the field
  2. Paying homage to pioneers/giving credit for related work.
  3. Ceremonial citation, the author of the cited publication is regarded as ‘authoritative’.
  4. The author of the cited publication is a man.
  5. The cited publication is written by a large number of co-authors.
  6. Maintaining of professional and/or social connections.

Other reasons

  1. Demonstrating familiarity with important literature.
  2. Demonstrating familiarity with prestigious journals.
  3. Demonstrate scholarship (e.g. excessive self-citation).
  4. Appealing to editors, readers or reviewers in which the citing publication is published.
  5. The cited publication is easily available for examination.
  6. Political pressure
  7. Raise citation count

About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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