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Citation Justice

What is citation justice?

Citation justice is the process for being intentional about who you cite in your own work to uplift and center gender-diverse, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, S2LGBTQIA+ folxs.

Citations are not neutral

Citation politics refers to the reality in many disciplines and interdisciplinary for "exclusion, discrimination, and marginalization of particular groups" in scholarship and publication, typically of marginalized scholars (Mott & Cockayne, 2017, p. 954). 

  • White male authors are more likely to be cited than any others, which does not reflect a diverse range of experiences
  • Women are less cited then men, unless they co-author with male authors and then they are more likely to get cited
  • People of colour are also less likely to be cited than white folks even when they have more expertise and/or experience

Therefore, when we continue to cite the same things over and over again we are replicating and recreating the same experiences which does not add to our breadth and depth of knowledge. 

Citation practices can actually have a big impact on scholars and their successes. How cited and therefore influential your work is can impact whether a scholar is promoted or receives tenure. This impacts who teaches classes, who gets access to institutional support, such as funding, and who gets permanent positions, and therefore contributes their voice to research and teaching. 

As a result who you choose to cite in your own work matters! 


Carrie Mott & Daniel Cockayne (2017) Citation matters: mobilizing the politics of citation toward a practice of ‘conscientious engagement’, Gender, Place & Culture, 24:7, 954-973, DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1339022

Content adapted from Salem State University Library "Act Up - Evaluation Method - Citation Politics" and University of Maryland University Libraries "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research - Citation Justice"


When you approach your research, whether that is finding a journal article for a paper, or developing your own study, you have the opportunity to make a number of choices about what and how you conduct that research.

Who you are in this process is very important, and being intentional and mindful of that is part of citation justice. 

Typically, we seek information and sources that reflect who we are and our identities. This is referred to as positionality. 

Positionality refers to locating ourselves within our social, political, and cultural context. This can include (but is not limited to) race, gender and sexual identity, class, political beliefs, cultural and education experiences and more. These impact the point of view and perspective that you have in doing research. Being aware of that and what and how you look at the sources of information you are finding to incorporate into your work is important. Otherwise, we are at risk of only choosing perspectives, approaches, and content that aligns with our own positionality. 


Adapted from:

Holmes, Andrew Gary Darwin. "Researcher Positionality--A Consideration of Its Influence and Place in Qualitative Research--A New Researcher Guide." Shanlax International Journal of Education 8.4 (2020): 1-10.

Salem State University Library "Act Up - Evaluation Method - Citation Politics

Practicing citation justice

  • Practice citation counting: literally count how many women, poc, and other marginalized folx are included in your references. Count how many nontraditional sources you cited. Google the authors to see who they are if you need to. Don't make assumptions about gender. Do your research.

  • Push against the narrow definition of academic scholarship that is exclusive, misogynistic and racist. Just because someone's work has not been heavily cited does not mean it does not have value. Strive to towards citation politics that are feminist and anti-racist.

  • There are different kinds of authority. Consider the context in which you are writing and determine what kind of expert you need? For example when might a government site not be as reliable as a personal narrative?

  • There are more contributors to research than just the author(s). Take a critical look at the methodology section to see who contributed and who didn't.


From Tulane University Libraries "Citation and Research Management Tools - Politics of Citation" and Salem State University Library "Act Up - Evaluation Method - Citation Politics