The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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6:54pm on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2009:

Buying Books


Several people at DiGRA asked me why I was spending time looking through the indeces of all the books for sale, so I thought I'd share my reasons with QBlog's discerning readership.

I do it because if my name appears, I buy the book. This isn't to say that if my name doesn't appear then I won't buy it, but if it does appear then I will. Want me to buy a copy of your book? Put my name in the index. It doesn't even have to be in the text — I won't find out until later when I look it up to see what you said about me.

I do the same with academic papers: I always read them if they have my name in them, but only read them otherwise if they look to be relevant or interesting in some way.

This practice of buying books and reading papers that mention me isn't entirely to do with vanity: there is a cunning aspect to it, too. See, if I'm more likely to read material that has my name in it, then I'm more likely to cite it. This means that if anyone reads my own papers and follows up the references, they will find research that tends to refer back to my work. This makes me look of more central importance to the subject area than I actually am, thereby enhancing my reputation.

Yes, you can game your academic career.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).