The tiresome formalities

There is no way around it – and it has its justification: If you want to write scientifically, you must adhere not only to the respective methodology of the subject, but also to its catalog of formalities.

The question of why

Anyone who writes a literary text would do well to adapt to the respective structure. The dramaturgy and structure of a novel differ from that of a short story. Likewise, a poem that ignores things like meter or rhyme would be missed. The same is true in the field of science, but here the rules are much stricter: less is creativity than the completeness, coherence, necessity and comprehensibility of the text. Footnotes or notes in the text allow the reader to quickly check the presented information for origin and logical consistency.

The formalities thus form a methodology that should be familiar to every scientific text producer and reader. They greatly facilitate the entire scientific process, as possible errors can be quickly identified and assigned to the respective originator.

How to handle?

Although it is relatively clear how and why a book or essay should appear in the bibliography, not only the citation habits of students differ, but also the expectations of lecturers. The rule of thumb, according to which well-known knowledge does not have to be quoted, unfortunately offers little clarity here, because the deeper an author is in matter, the more he tends to consider the knowledge known to him to be “generally known”. And many a student had to realize that lecturers here and there miss a footnote. If you want to be on the safe side, it’s better to list one document too much than one too little.

As a general rule, there is no way for young scientists to learn the formalities. Anyone who thinks they can neglect the topic during their undergraduate studies will get into difficulty during their main studies – or at the latest during their final thesis.