Scholarship as Conversation
"Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations." (Association of College and Research Libraries, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, p. 20)
Over time, as students and scholars write about a topic, the accumulation of writing becomes a scholarly conversation. With each writer, new insights and discoveries are documented over time, adding different perspectives and interpretations.
Referring to other essays, studies and reports and describing how they relate to your own work gives authority to your arguments. This is particularly important when people have different opinions about the topic you are addressing in your writing.
Citing other researchers proves that you know what you are saying is relevant, since you’re placing your words in the context of the existing literature. If the topic you are writing about is subjective in nature, your reader knows you’ve consulted other research and your opinions are based on some consideration of the existing scholarly conversation on that topic and not solely on anecdotal evidence.
Source: From “Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students,” NCSU Libraries, (CC-BY-NC-SA license)