Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Dear Opinionatedweb,

I have been told many times that it is not considered correct in academic papers to use bibliographic citations as nouns, as in "a complete proof of Theorem 7 can be found in [42]". Now I am not averse to learning what the language community's standards are and following them — especially in this case it is a very easy rule to follow — but I wonder what reason, if any, there is, for this prohibition apart from mere custom and habit.

I would certainly never consider a paper I'm reading worse for using this construction. It seems like a fine sort of scholarly deixis, a way of pointing directly at a reference in the same way that I might say "yeah, there is a gas station over there three miles away". I think I actually have a habit of reading the more parenthetical use of it, as in "a complete proof of Theorem 7 can be found in a series of papers by Smith ([42],[43],[44])" as being an elided form of the (again essentially nominal) phrase "... by Smith (see [42],[43],[44])".

Do other people use this, pointedly not use it, love it, hate it? I would love to hear a good argument against it.
Tags: papers

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