Statement of Purpose

Inequitable citation is one of the many ways that academia actively perpetuates and participates in systemic injustice. The evidence that our habits of citation are neither just nor equitable is everywhere—one need only look at the nearest syllabus or bibliography to see how current citational norms consistently exclude scholars of color and non cis-male scholars. Failure to cite equitably results in erasures and omissions that inhibit the production of academic knowledge and perpetuate cultures of harm against scholars who have been marginalized. But acknowledging this is not enough; we must enact the changes we wish to see. As members of the academy at all levels, we are responsible for sustaining a community grounded in justice and equity. A growing interdisciplinary discourse on citation suggests that citational inclusion is of critical importance to equitable scholarship and free inquiry. Proponents of this movement [1] observe that, while the problem of citational inequity is a large and institutional one, we can each resist the systemic injustice of irresponsible citation by working to reduce our own complicity in perpetuating the inequitable practices. 

Our pledge articulates a set of minimum citational standards that every scholar can undoubtedly meet and exceed. These standards do not offer a complete solution to citational inequity. Rather, they are a set of minimum actions towards citational equity’s first step: inclusion. In some disciplines, these standards might be habitually met already. In others, including the authors’ shared discipline of musicology, universal adherence to them would represent a radical change the discipline’s pedagogical and research practices. In either case, explicitly committing to including historically underrepresented scholars in all our work makes us accountable to our values and prompts us to revise any habits that do not align with those values. 

Ultimately, our goal as scholars must be to move beyond mere citational inclusion to citational equity, which cannot be articulated as a series of concrete, unchanging commitments. But we can use such commitments to stimulate critical work that takes equity as its goal. We can, for example, leverage the minimum standards in this pledge not only to evaluate and improve our own scholarly praxis, but also to organize communal structures of accountability that strive to ever-more-inclusive standards. Citing better—citing more inclusively, and constantly interrogating what equitable citation can look like—is just one part of antiracist, antisexist work, both in and outside of the academy. 

We ask you to join us in pledging to take this step and to go beyond: we can and we will cite better.

[1] Among them The Cite Black Women Collective, Sara Ahmed, and Kecia Ali; see our citations page for more