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Quite often, I am asked why I no longer use references in my articles. First, it should be reminded that articles in technical magazines require no further reference than the name of the person who signs such document. Second, references in an article break the flow of reading, making the message harder to emerge from the few lines available to each article.
However, the real reason is that an article remains a story about a problem; it is an appetizer rather than the whole meal. As such, the purpose of an article is to entice readers to dig deeper into the subject. It is the exact opposite of what we call “literature review” that by definition needs to review all available literature and provide such references.
And, above all, let’s not forget that with today’s digital technology, we have strong internet search engines that provide tons of evidence with just a few clicks. Just try searching for any topic and you will find all the references you need, and some more!
An article is but an opinion of the author based on education, experience and hopefully a thorough review of all available literature.
So, it is not that I am against literature references, but rather that I prefer to use them in the right place. After all, an article is but an opinion of the author based on education, experience and hopefully a thorough review of all available literature.
Sometimes, an author will take a controversial position, supporting this or the other side. There is no need to provide evidence, facts or literature for both sides. Readers want to read what experts recommend, not the whole background story. This is of interest only to the few people who actually do the research or are involved intimately with the business. The rest of us just want to have a qualified opinion.
Imagine going to your doctor for the flu, and instead of be given a diagnosis and a treatment for the symptoms, you get a lecture on how antibiotics are ineffective, how the flu virus changes every year, what research was published last year on the new drugs and vaccines and how effective they may not be, etc., etc. You just want to stop suffering from the flu, not become a flu expert! Now, if that same doctor were to write an article or paper in a journal read by other doctors, yes, he would have to do all of the above. But those who read technical magazines are mostly users of products and services, not fellow doctors — and any such are usually your competitors!