Thesis Countdown (part 20)

17 days to go…

Today I do referencing. I don’t really dislike referencing, but it’s a grind. After a while, I realize that despite the grind I’m really rather enjoying it. I’ve discovered a few (not many) papers I wasn’t aware of in the process of getting/checking the things I was already aware of. In all, progress goes well.

I never thought I’d end up trying to get a reference to a 1975 paper about water in a salmon river in Idaho, yet here I am.

I make surprisingly good progress with the work, and actually finish most of the referencing for the entire thesis. Somehow, I thought there’d be more references. It’s not like there’s none – just under 90 – but it feels strange to only have to talk about such a narrow range of things that the same references keep coming up again and again. Then again, many of those papers are damn good science that I hope to live up to.

I heard someone say once that you should aim for an average of one reference per page, but I think that you shouldn’t add multiple references where one will do. This is especially true when adding more references doesn’t actually give the reader any more useful information. I could see that in very crowded fields, or in fields where the barriers between subfields are quite permeable (see: soft matter sciences) that one would need a high reference density due to the sheer number of relevant research that goes on in neighbouring groups. But in the field I work, the barriers between subfields are quite high and it can be hard to find appropriately similar work in your neighbouring fields. On top of that, papers in the field tend to have a long digestion time & so the relative size of the published work is also quite low. These things considered, it doesn’t seem so bad to have relatively few references.

Of course, I could extend my introduction to talk about vaguely relevant fields. The problem with that is the tendency for this sort of padding to dilute the message and distract from the things which are actually important. So, I elect not to do that either.

I will likely find a few more things to add over the next few days, too.

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About stoove

A physicist, researcher, and gamesman. Likes to think about the mathematics and mechanics behind all sorts of different things, and writing up the thoughts for you to read. A competent programmer, enjoys public speaking and mechanical keyboards. Has opinions which might even change from time to time.
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