I really find citations to be annoying. Who cares if you are supposed to add a period instead of a comma? Who cares if everything gets capitalized, or only the first words? The original point of citations was so you could refer the reader to a relevant quote or an idea from someone else. Well guess what. We have a way better tool for that now. They’re called hyperlinks.
Citations are the original hyperlink. Example: A reader is cruising along reading a lengthy document on law or medicine or something equally prestigious and comes across something with which he is unfamiliar. “Golly, I sure wish I knew more about where this information came from,” he says to himself. But lo and behold there is a little number next to the sentence he was just reading. He glances at the bottom of the page and finds the same corresponding number next to a little note, a footnote if you will. He is then able to follow the citation in the footnote to a completely different article and then learn more about that topic.
The same process is currently availble on the web except it is much easier. If you see something you want to know more about, you click on it.
I can see why students cut corners and spend as little time as possible on citations. It’s boring and it is not the reason they went to school. I get bored to tears coming up with citation examples. And I don’t always get the capitalization right. Citations are not fun or glamorous.
Even though I think they’re dumb, I can still see the value in them. Properly citing teaches you to give credit where credit is due. It teaches you to be able to separate your thoughts from other people’s thoughts. It’s also good practice following set formats and writing a certain way. In their jobs many of these students may have to use specialized writing: things like business memos, technical writing, commenting in their code. Students have to learn sooner or later they have to be able to understand and follow specific rules for writing.
That doesn’t make it any more fun, but at least it gives them a reason why they should care about proper citations.