Discussion: Citations, what are they good for?!

Last week we conducted an analysis of the use of citation in our GEC subcorpus. We decided against using particular framework, but rather have each member of the team provide their insight into the purpose and function of the citations used in the observed articles. We all decided to have a look at 5 articles each and came up with 4 different frameworks how to describe them.
Some of the descriptions were based on frameworks such as Swales’ (1990) distinction between integral and non-integral citations, the others focused on describing function with results akin to Nigel Harwood’s (2008) study, e.g. ‘saving space’, ‘justifying topic’, ‘justifying methdod’ etc. Furthermore, we noticed that in an interdisciplinary journal such as GEC many citations point outside the academia towards governmental and international institutions and their reports.
Having done these analyses separately we’ve gained an insight into what questions such an analysis can answer. Thus for example, it will be interesting to investigate the number, as well as the function, of the references to non-academic sources and whether that is something characteristic of interdisciplinary research.
We’re also going to compare the functions citations perform in these journals to observe if there are any differences between monodisciplinary and interdisciplinary journals.
If you have done any similar research on the functions of citation in academic or other discourses, or are interested in this issue, please join the debate by leaving us a comment below.

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