A Whole New Way To Waste My Time (And Yours)

I’m getting an essay ready to submit to a journal and since all my references are in a database I thought I’d take a look at their chronological distribution. First, I was more than a little shocked that I had cited 97 separate works not counting primary sources. The oldest is Grotius’ 1644, Annotata ad Vetus Testamentum and the most recent is Wajdenbaum’s forthcoming Argonauts of the Desert: Structural Analysis of the Hebrew Bible. This alone is interesting because the essay in which I reference these works has next to nothing to do with the Hebrew Bible. By the way, I haven’t seen Wajdenbaum book as yet but, from the advanced description, it falls into a class of works that I reference. If I haven’t been able to see it before my essay goes to press (if it ever does), I will delete the reference. The other three references from this decade are at least on subject and, more importantly, I have read them. Excluding Gortius, here is the distribution of my reference by decade.

Reference distribution

I guess this isn’t too bad. The current decade is still young. For those with truly abnormal interests, the average publication date of my references with Gortius is 1986 and without Gortius that average just short of 1990. The median with or without Gortius median is 1995.

2 thoughts on “A Whole New Way To Waste My Time (And Yours)”

  1. The chronological distributions of the citations in most scientific papers would probably be similar to yours. The most number of citations would be from the last 2-10 years. Citations from before the 20th century, especially from the 1600s would be rare.

  2. Yeah, even for an essay like this one, a reference to a work from the 1600s would be unusual. By the time I’m through cleaning this up, I will likely drop about a dozen or so references including the 1644 one. It is mostly just showing off anyway. In many cases, I will likely just reference the most recent example of a given position or a work that sums up the current debate and refer readers (if there are any) to the literature cited there. The papers from the 1930s and 40s contain the original publications (and in several cases, the only publications) of the cuneiform tablets that I discuss. So it’s important to, at a minimum, note where one differs. In at least one case, I think the author of one these papers is the most resent person who has looked carefully at the physical tablets. I wanted to take a look at a couple of them but Shirley told me that the budget for my essay did not include visits to London and Bonn. In a couple of cases, these older papers contain the only translations of these tablets other than what I will provide in my essay.

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