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A note on the evaluation of footnotes and other devices for background information in popular scientific texts

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3 Author(s)
Jansen, F. ; Inst. of Linguistics, Utrecht Univ., Netherlands ; Van Lijf, A. ; Toussaint, E.

Do readers of popular scientific texts appreciate references to the original sources? If they do, which reference system is most preferred? In order to answer these questions, we did two experiments. In the first one, four versions of a short popular science article were created: one without references and three with references-one incorporated references in running text, one in a separated text block at the end, and one between parentheses. The parentheses version was rated highest. In the second experiment, two versions of another popular science article were evaluated: one with references in parentheses and one with references in footnotes. This time, the footnote version was rated highest. We conclude that there is reason to doubt the received wisdom that common readers prefer omitting references or incorporating them in running text. Readers seem to favor the ancient and much-maligned mechanism of the footnote for providing background information

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 3 )