I’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. Read more