A scathing open letter to every ‘Works Cited’ page we’ve had to write

William Bennett/File

Dear “Works Cited,”

We hate you. We know that “hate” is a strong word that should be exclusively reserved for brussels sprouts and our 8 a.m. on Mondays, but it’s the only word that properly conveys how we feel about you. The crazy amount of time you require and our acute inability to pay attention to detail makes for a special cocktail of discontent.

There’s no satisfaction quite like writing the last sentence of a conclusion for a research paper. That closing statement that we produce, based on the loosest possible understanding of the paper topic, is our ticket to freedom from the shackles of our essay. But alas, our liberation is short-lived. We’re snapped back into the pits of despair when the realization of the “Works Cited” page that lies ahead hits us like a brick wall.

You’re like that last pair of shoes that we realize we forgot to pack after wrestling our luggage shut for 15 minutes. Or that stupid discussion response we remember as we’re about to fall asleep at 2 a.m. Just when we think we’re home free, you pop up to remind us that our happiness really is too good to be true.

Beyond the emotional demoralization is how incredibly annoying you are. Your painstaking demands over parentheses, periods, alphabetization and italicization haunt our dreams at night. Don’t even get us started on the disparities in “Works Cited” standards. Purdue OWL tells us to italicize an article title; the librarian tells us to italicize the source, and Google Scholar is out here telling us to italicize the date. Why do people need to know so much about each source anyway? What relevance does the blood type of the author have on the content of our paper? As if it’s not enough for you to be the bane of our existence — you’ve got the nerve to be a high maintenance pain in our backside.

All too often, writing the “Works Cited” page requires more effort than the essay itself. All this only for our work to go completely unacknowledged. We would be willing to bet a year’s worth of Top Dog that no GSI has ever read an entire “Works Cited” page.

We understand that the responsible and efficient thing to do would be to assemble our “Works Cited” page whilst writing our essay. Too bad the last time we acted responsibly and efficiently was when we bought that two-for-one shampoo and conditioner in eighth grade. While it would save us a headache at the end if we organized our citations, it’s important to trust the process. And by “process,” we mean the debilitating frustration we experience at 3 a.m. on our living room floor as we frantically scour the Internet for the academic journal we used for that one statistic.

So look out, “Works Cited.” We’re coming for you.

Sincerely,
Jilted and Angry

Amanda Chung is the assistant blog editor. Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected].