Modernizing academic citation practices, and the power of expressive links

Patrick Dunleavy (of the London School of Economics and Political Science) proposes not only a streamlining, but an expansion of the potential of referencing (“Academic citation practices need to be modernized: references should lead to full texts wherever possible“).  Starting with a call for journal abbreviations to be less esoteric and volume and issue numbers to lose their importance, he points out that references now should be links, i.e., URLs, so we are pointing readers not to hyper-specific slivers of the source, but acquainting them with the whole scope of the source.  Page numbers are now passé (and subject to change over time).

Most interesting, however, is his call for links to be more than identifiers of precise snippets:  make the link text a short phrase from the passage, so the reader can click on the link and then search within the resulting page for the referenced passage.  But beyond that, making a greater portion of one’s own text the link text results in a more expressive link (a usability principle–an extension of the deprecation of “click here” links) that connotes the argument made by the linked article, and thus offers more useful direction to the reader.  Also, links can be skimmed for in a page, and possibly extracted, grouped, and sorted.

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