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A Question of References

stack of booksI’m working away on my book, but my progress is maddeningly slow. I’m getting hung up on really important questions of scope and tone, and I’m hoping that as I resolve these, the writing will start to come easier.

Here’s an important question that I’m struggling with, and I’d like your advice. How do you like to see references in a non-fiction book?

The writing in my book is like that in my science-based blog posts. I am basing it on lots of references and papers, but I am trying to frame the scientific questions with real-life stories from my experience and that of other parents.

When I submitted my book proposal, the peer reviewers responded that they thought an evidence-based book backed by references would be a unique and helpful resource to new parents. And based on the responses from you, the readers of my blog, I think you value this as well. So providing references and making them accessible to the reader is important to me.

When my editor and I were going over the book contract, the topic of how to handle references came up. Initially, he thought that I should avoid in-text references – either noted by author or by number. That is, he didn’t expect sentences like this made-up one: “In one surprising study, researchers from the University of Amazing found that children were more accepting of new foods when they XXX.57” Instead, he recommended simply providing a list of references, by chapter, at the end of the book, without necessarily linking each reference to the text describing it. After some discussion, he said he was open to me using in-text citations, but I also agreed to give some thought to different options.

I’m actually really uncomfortable writing about science without in-text citations. I’m used to science writing where you provide a reference for just about every single statement you make. That’s how I learned to write for scientific papers, and on the blog, I’ve continued with this style without much thought. In this style, I’m saying, “Don’t take my word for it – this is coming from these scientists who researched the question.” I’m not writing this book from a place of authority but rather from one of curiosity. I’m not claiming to be an expert with all the answers but rather a person who has questions and is willing to dig for the answers. And as a reader, I like being able to flip to the reference list at the end of the chapter or the back of the book and see the authors, title, year, and journal where a particular study was published.

I think that the argument against in-text references is that they are distracting from the narrative. I do think that references providing names and dates can be distracting, but I personally think that superscript numbers can do the trick without taking away from the story. Even so, I understand the point that the story needs to stand on its own even if the reader never checks references. Perhaps not providing in-text references would force me to be more selective about the references I choose and to build the story of a particular study more fully. And it might make the book feel more accessible to a reader not accustomed to this style.

I also admit that my resistance to writing without in-text references comes in part from my hesitancy to step outside my comfort zone. It could be that references are a sort of crutch to me, and that my writing would improve without them if I was willing to work on this.

Going through the books on my shelf right now (those that relate to parenting and science but are written for a lay audience), I see a few different ways of handling this question.

1. A “Notes” section – without in-text markers – followed by a bibliography with full citations. Examples of this format:

NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, is a really excellent book that makes science come alive within an easy narrative. I really admire this book, so I paid close attention to this format. There are no in-text references or footnotes. Important studies are described in detail, and sometimes the journal and year of publication are given within the text. A Notes section at the end of the book provides references backing assertions within the chapter. These are not marked within the chapter, but if you were reading along and wondering what evidence stood behind a particular statement, you might find a paragraph in the Notes describing and listing several studies by author and date. You could then proceed to the “Selected Sources and References” at the back of the book listing full citations by chapter. Finding the papers behind a given statement in the chapter thus requires a two-step process – checking first the notes and then the reference list. But the text of this book flows so easily that you want to keep reading, not check references. I think that’s a good thing.

The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin, another book that I admire for its sound science and gripping narrative. The notes and bibliography of this book are nearly 100 pages long. Notes are not marked in the text but are listed by page number in the Notes section.

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood – (I reviewed this book here.) Notes are listed by page number, and it also includes a bibliography.

2. A “Notes” section – with superscript numbers as in-text markers – followed by a bibliography with full citations. Examples of this format:

Bottled Up by Suzanne Barston – Gosh, I’ve been meaning to write about this book, but I’m afraid I need to reread it first since now its been too long. Great book, though.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman – There’s more science in this book than meets the eye.

Your Baby’s Best Shot by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy and E. Allison Hagood

3. Just one reference list at the end of the book, with in-text markers for sources.

The Science of Parenting, by Margot Sunderland. I also paid close attention to this book since my book may be competing in a similar market, and there are things that I both like and dislike about this book. Sunderland doesn’t tell us much about the studies she cites but instead uses them to back narrative text providing advice to parents. In this case, I really appreciate the in-text citations, because sometimes I’ve tracked down her references and found that she’s stretched the interpretation of a study and made a few conceptual leaps to link it to her statement. I think this illustrates one danger of in-text citations. It gives the look of authority, but perhaps it also allows the author to take more liberties with her interpretation, because she doesn’t actually have to tell you much about the studies backing her statement. If you’re wondering, you can go look it up, but many readers won’t have the time or resources to do this.

The Fourth Trimester by Susan Brink: I just received a review copy of this book and haven’t yet read it. In-text citations are given as superscript numbers, and all references (including interviews and correspondence) are given in one “Notes” section.

4. No in-text citations and one reference list available. This style seems to be adopted mostly by experts in their fields, who likely feel comfortable giving advice without backing it with research. (This isn’t me!)

Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter – This is my favorite guide to feeding children, and it is evidence-based to boot. She also has many appendices on important topics (like “Nutritional Principles for Baby Formula” and “Children and Food Acceptance: The Research”), written in more technical language and really geared for the parent who wants to know more about the research behind her recommendations.

Beyond Baby Talk by Kenn Apel and July Masterson – (I reviewed this book here.)

Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina – no printed references in the book, but a note on a single page at the back of the book refers the reader to a website that provides “extensive, notated references.”

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? By Jena Pincott – (I reviewed this book here.) One section at end has “Sources” listed by chapter.

Maybe you can help me figure out how to handle references. Can you check some of your favorite science books to see how they do it? What style do you prefer? Do you even check references when you’re reading a book like this?

47 Comments
  1. sweets85 #

    I find if the in-text markers are there then I tend to jump back and forth between the page I’m reading and the reference list, I can’t even explain why :-/

    My preference is to have the bibliography with full citations. If possible sorted by chapter with a page reference so I can flick back and make sure it’s the one I’m after. I do like checking the references on topics that peak my interest.

    Like

    February 14, 2013
  2. In Text as you originally thought. It is useless unless it is linked to the exact statement…the audience is sleep deprived and very busy so it is not helpful to have to hunt for the specific source.

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    February 14, 2013
  3. Looks like a “stylebook” clash to me. Working in the sciences, you’re used to APA, which is all about in-text citations. Both Chicago Manual of Style (which I learned in grad school) and MLA use footnotes, but with different formatting. The idea of a non-fiction research-based book in any field without some kind of footnotes or end notes makes me uncomfortable. I have a handful of footnoted quotes (from specific books or songs) in my memoir—we’ll see how long an editor leaves those in. As for what would work best for you, my gut says “science book = in-text citations” but that’s what I’m used to seeing in your field.

    Like

    February 14, 2013
    • Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head. My discussion with my editor reveals that the book could fall somewhere in a wide range of science-i-ness. He’s used to working with authors of academic books who stick very closely to the APA style, but he knows mine is targeted towards more of a lay audience. My assessment of my options reveals that I know nothing about MLA and Chicago Manual of Style… I think it would take me some time to learn to write footnotes, but I can see the utility of them. They would also allow me to include some nitty gritty details that I think are important but aren’t all that interesting to the sleep-deprived parent, no matter how science-minded. Thank you for your input!

      Like

      February 14, 2013
      • I have a great cheat sheet from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) that lists examples of APA, MLA, and Chicago side by side in columns. I could email it to you if you’d like me to.

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        February 14, 2013
        • Yes, please do! That would be so helpful!

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          February 14, 2013
    • Frances #

      MLA does not use footnotes; it uses internal citations with a Works Cited page at the end of the text.

      Like

      February 16, 2013
      • You’re right. My bad. I learned Chicago Manual of Style in grad school. Never used MLA. Thanks.

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        February 16, 2013
      • Frances #

        LOL–I know nothing about Chicago style, but I definitely agree with you about the OWL website. It’s the best!

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        February 19, 2013
  4. Betsy #

    Sci librarian and former history major here. Part of your strength as a source and as a writer are your in-text citations. You weave them in very skillfully and always provide a way for readers to find and review the information on their own. You don’t ask readers to simply take your word for it. Providing superscript numbers to end notes gives print readers that option as well. Or a good alternative would be the system you describe as being used in The Panic Virus.

    As librarian I loathe the single reference list with no connection to the text. Too vague and takes to much time to untangle the text and then figure out to which study the author is referring. It may make for slightly smoother reading but it makes for time-consuming research.

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    February 14, 2013
    • As a reader, I agree. I much prefer to see exactly which studies are being linked to a statement. But I don’t know if I see things differently because I am so used to reading academic papers. With your background, can you explain why I might consider a footnotes section in addition to a bibliography? This seems more complicated from the author’s point of view and the reader’s, but perhaps it also gives you space to include some technical notes about the reference?

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      February 14, 2013
  5. Katherine #

    I’d like a connection between the assertion and the reference. A reference list, even with page numbers, just doesn’t cut it for me, even as a non-science person. Think of the following: two opposing sides each present their opinions, then aren’t mentioned again, for whatever reason. They will both be listed as references for the same page. Now I don’t know which one to look into if I want to explore one position further, and that’s frustrating. I think Chapter endnotes is a good way to weave substantiation in with narrative.

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    February 14, 2013
  6. mt #

    I vote for option #2. I come from an academic background, too, and I don’t like writing and without in-text markers. And when I’m reading, I hate having to guess from a list of sources where a particular fact or argument originated. I really liked the way Druckerman handled her citations. (You’re right–she did a TON of research). Being a nerd, I followed up on several of them, and she made it quite easy. For what it’s worth, I’m a Chicago gal–once I learned the formula, it became pretty intuitive.

    Like

    February 14, 2013
  7. Option 2, with chapter endnotes.

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    February 14, 2013
  8. Anna #

    My instinct is the same as yours – In text & statement specific. It’s a question of transparency & gives the reader confidence that each individual statement can be verified. Less thoroughly referenced books may be (or may appear to be, even if rigorously evidence based) using a load of studies or selected bits of studies lumped together and interpreted to support a general statement. There could also be an argument that because other parenting books don’t typically use this style that your book will be filling a gap in the market & it will be immediately obvious to anyone browsing that this makes your book stand out as that elusive evidence-based parenting book, whereas other books may be evidence-based but not in such a transparent & rigorous way. Easy for me to say when not sitting opposite your publisher who obviously has good reasons & their own professional instinct on this but i’d encourage you to fight your corner tooth & nail on this!

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    February 14, 2013
    • Thank you for this, Anna! And for the record, my editor only seemed surprised that I was planning in-text references but agreed that I could do it this way. He may still think I’m misguided, but I haven’t had to fight him on it, happily.

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      February 14, 2013
  9. I’m going to agree with Betsy. I’m also a librarian and scientific books written for popular audiences without in-text citations or superscripts are really difficult for me to read. I want to be able to easily find the the study you consulted.

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    February 14, 2013
  10. In text citations all the way. I’d go with the “Just one reference list at the end of the book, with in-text markers for sources.” personally.

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    February 14, 2013
  11. As a librarian and a grad student, I can’t imagine this type of writing not having in-text markers to link to the sources. I would think that consumers of this type of book would value being able to tell where the information comes from. I think I’d prefer #2, but as long as the source as indicated and I could find the reference somewhere in the book, I’d be happy.

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    February 14, 2013
  12. I would prefer #2 but I think the real question is, “Who do you want to sell this book to?” If it’s to be a useful book for MOST parents then the references I like will make the book more of a chore to read. Whether people like this or not, the fact is people will vote with their wallets and go buy a more accessible one…regardless of its value or credibility. I suggest you keep the references simple, just listed at the end, and you will reach more readers.

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    February 14, 2013
    • I have never thought that this would be a book for MOST parents – there are other books out there like that. My book will go into more detail about the science behind some of the biggest questions of the first year, and it is specifically geared towards parents that are interested in the science. I think this audience will want to see references somehow, and it sounds like most responders here like having direct links between text and references. I don’t expect this book to be a bestseller, but I think that the population of science-curious parents out there may be bigger than we realize. But thank you for your input – I think my editor is thinking the same thing, but I’m glad that he’s open to me doing it my way:)

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      February 14, 2013
  13. Ann Pfeiffer #

    I like # 2. I want to see the reference for statements/research that I ‘m interested in or ignore ones that don’t challenge me. Superscript numerals aren’t distracting to me but add to the validity of the text.

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    February 14, 2013
  14. Louise #

    Option number 2. Not distracting, but not pointless and confusing like an unlinked list would be. Notes at end broken down by chapter would be more accessible and less intimidating than a notes section at the end of each chapter.

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    February 14, 2013
  15. I personally prefer the type of references where there is a superscript number at the end of the sentence. I really dislike having to go to the back to search an entire section to find a reference, even if the reference section is really thorough. But, I, like you, tend to go with years of indoctrination thanks to my science training. But I really wish books written in layman’s terms had easy to access references. There’s nothing I hate more than reading “Studies have been done and have shown X,Y, and Z” and there is no reference to be found. It’s the best way to perpetuate misinformation.

    Also, I think you are awesome for taking on this task, and can’t wait to read your book.

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    February 14, 2013
  16. Donna Miles #

    I am a postpartum doula and love your website which I just recently found. I was specifically interested in your blob because you share research and evidence based info. So I like that you let your readers know what studies and research you have reviewed! I am asked by many new moms about many different topics and try to share with them EVIDENCE based information. Thank you. Donna Miles

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    February 14, 2013
  17. I’ll add another vote for #2. The only time I’ve ever found this method distracting is when the author of a non-fiction book abuses the notes section by dumping in paragraphs of caveats and clarifications and additional information, which makes me feel like I need to flip back and forth to get the full picture of what they’re saying. If you’re using it for just the references, it makes them more accessible for the people who want more details, and the people who don’t can easily just gloss over the little numbers.

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    February 14, 2013
  18. Hey, thank you all so much for your input! I don’t think I would be able to write without in-text references – I wouldn’t be comfortable with it, and I think you’re right that part of the point of the book would be lost without them. I still need to decide if I also need footnotes, but this feedback has been extremely helpful.

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    February 14, 2013
  19. Vasudha #

    I would really like to see in-text references with the source appearing in a footnote on the same page, rather than in a list at the end. Endnotes or special notes / reference sections always are more work for a reader, and I think a book for new parents should be as academically user-friendly as possible given their (likely) state of exhaustion. I think something like this would be truly unique. Plus, this past year that I’ve been a mom, it’s been really important for me that people don’t assume that just because I’ve had a baby and am tired, I am any less of an intelligent being myself.

    Like

    February 15, 2013
  20. Okay, I guess I’m going to be the dissenting voice here. I’ve read most of the books that you’ve mentioned. (I especially loved NurtureShock and Panic Virus!) Right now, when I’m reading something specifically for my dissertation or an academic article (or if I’m reading within my academic discipline), I expect and pay close attention to in-text references. But when I’m reading more general trade nonfiction, I actually prefer what Po Bronson did. Right now I’m loving Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” She doesn’t put in-text markers, but has a notes section at the end with the page number, phrase from the text, and relevant studies to back up her points. Personally, when I’m reading a nonfiction book that is driven so much by narrative, I don’t like having in-text markers. I always feel like I’m expected to go back and forth and read what’s in the back, and it interrupts the flow for me and distracts me. So I guess it depends on your particular audience, your expectation that your book will mostly be read by science-minded parents.

    Like

    February 15, 2013
    • It’s always good to have an intelligent, thoughtful dissenting voice. NurtureShock and the Panic Virus are probably my favorite books from the list above. I found it hard to put either of them down. And in reading both of them, I found that I developed a trust for the author. I may have wondered about Seth Mnookin’s sources a couple of times and gone back to read the footnotes. Probably after doing that a few times, I realized that he was being really thorough and thoughtful, let go of checking every reference, and enjoyed the read.

      As an author, I want the reader to have a hard time putting down the book, to be able to get a bit lost in it, but I also want the reader to feel confident that I am citing carefully and not taking liberties in the interpretation of the work. I’m not sure which style is better. I do know that I’m more comfortable with in-text citations, so I may stick with that for now as I hammer out the early chapters. I may go back and revise them out – or I may let that wait until Book #2:)

      Thanks so much for your input, Jessica. I really value it.

      Like

      February 15, 2013
  21. Amanda@LadyScientist #

    I’ll throw out another option. I read a book about religion (specifically feminism and Christianity). Anyhow, the subject matter isn’t important, but what I thought was nifty was the way the author did the references. The author didn’t do in text citations, but the list of references for each chapter was annotated (for lack of a better word). Each citation had a little blurb about what it covered in the text. I thought that was pretty neat. It’s probably a lot more work, though!

    Out of the options above, I’d vote for the in text superscript citations.

    Like

    February 15, 2013
    • That does sound like a lot of work! But I can see how it would be useful. As I’m writing, I keep having to push myself with this mantra: “More story, less lit review!” It’s a fine balance. The lit review style will put us all to sleep, and so I have to be careful about going into too many nitty gritty details about methods. I like the idea of having some other place to put that though, because if someone really wants to understand the finer parts of a controversy, you need the finer details. Others may want more of a big picture view. Some kind of footnotes or annotated bibliography might help me with that.

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      February 15, 2013
  22. I haven’t read the replies but I am an “in-text” fan for references. I don’t find the superscript numbers at all “in the way”. I think it’s a good idea to list the references at the end of each chapter so it’s easier for readers to cross-reference something of interest.

    Good luck with the writing!!

    Like

    February 15, 2013
  23. Larah #

    I am an in-text fan as well, despite being an easily distracted person. The superscript numbers are great in that they are not as much an interruption as other means, yet they are helpful when wanting to cross-reference a bit of information. It may be easier and less frustrating for you as well to stick to what you know. In the end, perhaps a bit of encouragement; you are a strong writer and you will finish well.

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    February 15, 2013
  24. Please use footnotes or in-text citations! There’s nothing that bothers me more than when someone says “studies show” but then forget to tell me which studies actually show this.

    Like

    February 16, 2013
  25. Frances #

    As an English teacher, I cannot imagine writing without in-text citations! The reader can always choose not to look at the Works Cited (or whatever you will call it) at the end if he doesn’t care about what sources you used.

    Like

    February 16, 2013
  26. My vote is for footnotes or in-text citations. In Art History, I use Chicago style with footnotes. Since you asked why one might use footnotes, I thought I’d add my two cents in for how I use them. Mostly the footnotes are just for sources, but they can also be used for extra commentary for a variety of purposes. One purpose is to show the depth of your research–perhaps only a statement or two is super relevant to your thesis (or maybe narrative in your case), so only that belongs in text. But you’ve done a lot more research, so you can cite and summarize key points of the other, less relevant, research in a footnote to show that you know what you’re talking about and are not just cherry picking evidence. Another reason might be that there is something interesting that is related to the topic, but not your thesis, so you include a summary and a source in a footnote so that anybody who is interested in the topic can have an idea of what’s going on and pursue it further if they’d like. Or maybe you’re citing one opinion in the literature, but there is one or several prominent dissenting opinions that, for whatever reason you might not need/want to mention in the main body of text, but need to be mentioned in a footnote for clarity and thoroughness. Another reason might be that you’ve stumbled upon another interesting question in the course of your research, but it goes beyond the scope of your book. You want to call attention to the hole in the research that you’ve found, so you put it in a footnote. Maybe you’ll go back to that question in a different publication, or maybe somebody else will see your question and want to pursue it on their own. Like I said, I’m an Art Historian, not a scientist, so some of these reasons may be more or less relevant for the kind of research you’re doing, but those are some reasons that you might consider using footnotes instead of just citations.

    Like

    February 16, 2013
    • Thanks for this explanation! I can definitely see how footnotes would be helpful. One of the issues I’m running into is that I want to explain some methodological and statistical issues in reasonable detail (what is an odds ratio anyway, and what is a case control study), but it really breaks up the narrative. Footnotes might be a good place to drop those explanations for those interested.

      Like

      February 22, 2013
  27. Developmental researcher #

    As a note: I am academically trained in the sciences beyond the graduate level, and this changes the way I read non-fiction (and some fiction 🙂

    Here are my points:

    1. It is absolutely maddening when I cannot find the source for a claim made in a non-fiction book. Reference issues like that make me want to not buy/read the book, unless the book makes up for it by having highly valuable content that I am willing to find academic papers for on my own. Having a list of citations at the end of a chapter (or as end notes), without any indication of which statement in the chapter came from which source is better than no sources at all, but is still very sub-par. The way I see it, the best option all around is to have superscripted numbers that refer to an end of chapter or end of book note showing the reference and any other little note about the reference or the topic that the author wants to add.

    2. **********Having good references for the claims in your book would make your book really stand out compared to what is out there. Other science trained parents will recognize it and value it, as well as other logic-focused members of the public.

    3. One example of a book that does a decent job of references is Welcome to Your Child’s Brain. It is written by two very well read neuroscientsts. Most of the claims are traceable to the source. AND since the writing was so accurate and the references good, I was able to use a few chapters for an undergrad development course I taught. AND because the book was not primarily hand-waving and had good sources, I was not embarrassed to recommend it to my academic friends. So, at least for me, having precise citations means the book can have multiple uses, and I would vouch for it publicly.

    4. One example of a book that does references poorly is Nurture Shock (which you mentioned). The authors clearly did not understand many of the topics they were broadly postulating about, and of the references that were there, many were sometimes impossible or would be very time consuming to track down. E.g. look at the work of graduate student John Smith who studied at the University of Nebraska (but only one of his many papers is relevant).

    5. What about your career? If you apply for a job in academia, it will be great to have a book that even your peers can easily enjoy. I guess I am equating having traceable references with enjoying a book.

    6. Everyone makes mistakes, and even if you don’t, your interpretation of the results of a study may be different from mine. If you describe a study in your book and state a conclusion that I’m hesistant about–I have the power to look up the paper you reference and make my own conclusions. Otherwise, I would just put your claim in the “suspicious” pile.

    Like

    February 19, 2013
    • Thank you! Lots of fabulous points. I haven’t read Welcome to Your Child’s Brain and will put it on my list. I agree that Nurture Shock made it difficult to track down specific papers. I liked this book and thought it was an enjoyable read, but maybe I didn’t read it with enough skepticism. I didn’t try to track down many references. Did you feel it was inaccurate? Or just difficult to verify the accuracy?

      I’m convinced. In-text references for me. If my editor is hesitant, I’ll refer him to this string of comments:)

      Like

      February 22, 2013
  28. Marie #

    I prefer the second option you presented. Particularly because you are doing a different type of book and because your focus is on presenting the evidence, superscript references followed by your works cited makes the most sense. Superscripts are not distracting to a reader as they can be easily ignored, but they are valuable for those of us who want to get more information or go to the primary source on a specific statement. I also like the way you do it on this blog, with parenthetical reference numbers at the end of each sentence. Maybe it is the English professor in me, but I like to know what are the writer’s ideas and what are the ideas of others that the writer is presenting. I hope your editor won’t require you to abandon your citation practice!

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    February 22, 2013
  29. Ugh, I tried to post from my phone and that was a nightmare…so here are my thoughts: I think there should be in-text citations through superscript with a list of references at the end of each chapter. It makes it easy to look at the reference immediately or wait till the end of the chapter. Less flipping through pages and not so overwhelming with it all at the end. I really hate footnotes, but they do serve their purpose, too. I fully hate writing that is supposed to be science-based without citations. I do not find that type of writing credible, in the least.

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    February 23, 2013
  30. maggie #

    What you are writing about is a field with many dissenting opinions. If your book is anything like your blog posts (and I hope it is 🙂 ), you are planning on doing a comparison of the validity of the various claims and the evidence to back them. One thing that influences the validity of a statement is the source; we give more credence to a statement from the University of Amazing based on a double blind study than on Bob’s Chicken and Breastfeeding conducting a poll of customers buying green and white bibs. I would assume that the in-text references inform the discussion. My recommendation would be for in-text references, with the utilization of footnotes for more in-depth discussion of a particular point where that conversation falls outside the narrative flow.

    Unless your chapters are designed to be read individually and not flow from one to the other, you want to think about putting pages of references at the end of each chapter. That will break up the flow of the reader, and encourage them to stop after each chapter. That makes you a reference book to pull off the shelf for an answer to a particular question, and not a manual to be read in its entirety. What is your vision?

    Like

    February 25, 2013
  31. Christina #

    First, let me just say that I very much enjoy your site and your writing. I haven’t commented before, but I’m glad to hear that you’re writing a book.

    What I find annoying is when a book combines endnotes that are contentful with endnotes that are simply bibliographic references. I personally like #2 option above, but don’t *also* then use those superscripts for things other than bibliographic references. The reason being that every time I see a number, I will then flip to see if it’s a note or a reference, and if it’s just a reference, it’s annoying because it breaks the flow. So my suggestion would be to use footnotes for any notes you might have, and then superscript numbers referring to just the bibliographic references (and a notes section if you decide to do that as well). Does that makes sense?

    Like

    February 26, 2013
  32. Lori #

    The evidence, and therefore the citations, are a central part of the book. I would argue you couldn’t really make an evidence-based book without the source being front and center. In-text citations seem necessary, in my opinion!!

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    March 11, 2013
  33. I love having in-text citations and footnotes in books. Without the sources being very clear up front, I begin to lose my trust in the author. Narrative is important, but a don’t want to feel like someone is blowing smoke up my *ahem*. I feel like I’m reading Dianetics with all it’s baseless claims when something isn’t backed up ON the page I’m reading. I read Child of Mine and Beyond Baby Talk with my laptop open, switching between search engines and looking up EVERYTHING. It’s a lot more work for the reader.

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    March 14, 2013
  34. Marcel #

    As an author of science-based books written for a lay-audience, I have always insisted on superscripted citations. The widespread use and familiarity of the general reader with Wikipedia should have made arguments with editors over their distracting nature a thing of the past. Add the fact that so many have come to read textbooks online, editors have even less to stand upon. Eventually, I came to avoid publishers who would not allow superscripted citations. One of their arguments was that 3-digit reference numbers in the text were psychologically overwhelming for the lay-reader. While smaller numbers can’t always be accommodated, by giving each chapter its own notes starting from number 1, their frequency can at least be reduced. Not that you can’t have both, but in my experience, lay-readers find footnotes at the bottom of pages more distracting compared to their placement at the end of the book as chapter endnotes.

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    March 30, 2014

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