Friday, November 13, 2009

D.C. index vanity 

You know, Washington isn't the only place where checking the index is commonplace.
As a delightful insider's joke on the inbred Washington political establishment, the [Sarah Palin] book has no index. So they can't find mention of themselves while browsing in the store. Buy it or lump it.
Academics do this all the time. Someone writes a paper in your research area? You immediately go to the bibliography to see if your paper was included in the review of previous literature on the topic. There's a very well-known economist who wrote me once a rather angry note (back before the internet was commonplace) complaining not that I had not cited his paper -- I had cited one -- but that he had a second paper I should have also included. I've heard others say "well, this paper is no good, she didn't cite me."

If only I could get people to read my papers first without looking at the bibliography. There was a time where we used footnotes with full citations and no bibliographies. But with the internet we now can just scan Google Scholar and other online indexes for who quoted us. Indeed, there's even a program for that. And it's free!

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