How do we cite types and sources of knowledge beyond the usual suspects when citational expectations, infrastructure, and norms make that difficult?

Studies (and common collective experience for some of us) have consistently shown bias in who is cited in terms of gender and race, what forms of knowledge are cited, and how citation acts as what Sarah Ahmed calls a “screening techniques: : how certain bodies take up spaces by screening out the existence of others” (Ahmed 2013).

CLEAR’s working group on citational politics grapples with the methods and tactics of citing differently–different people (which search engines can’t always find), different kinds of knowledge (which are often not peer reviewed), from places that are not in the global north (which are now always written in English), in the usual places (where citing differently has high stakes, such as in PhD comprehensive examinations). The working group is currently creating a series of blog posts about some of the challenges of citing differently and some tactics and resources to overcome them. Four methodological themes we’ve encountered in this project so far are:

  • In order to cite differently and diversely, how do we identify difference in a good way (true, equitable, ethical, accurate) that accounts for nuance, people/cases that don’t fit, incompleteness of categories?
  • How do we deal with the scale and ethics of organizational structures such as the tension of place, universalism, generalizability, and the cannon?
  • The extensive identification of of systemic barriers to citing differently. How might we maneuver them?
  • What does success in this project look like? How do we evaluate our efforts? How is good achieved in the practice of citing differently?
Slogan from a T-shirt: Cite Black Women
T-shirt slogan from the #CiteBlackWomen movement.

Reading, too

Citation is not just based on writing practices, though. It also stems from reading. Max Liboiron and Deondre Smiles have embarked on #Collabrary: a methodological experiment for reading with reciprocity, where they read four texts a week and write summaries of each text on Twitter. But more than a Cliff’s Notes exercise, they’re aiming to change the way they read– rather than extractive reading where readers scoop out the bits they need, they want to treat each text as a collaborative conversation with the authors, the Twitter community, and each other. They are seeking to read with humility, reciprocity, and in good relations. Search for the hashtag #Collabrary (Collaborative Library) for more.

Bibliography

This work draws on considerable existing work on citational politics (which is different from but overlaps with the subfield of citational metric studies). This bibliography is 53.4% percent women authors, based on Dr. Jane Summer’s  Gender Balance Assessment Tool. A count by hand that includes women and nonbinary genders has it at 57%.

Screenshot of a Tweet celebrating 11 top cited researchers, all white men. A reply reads: #sausagefest