Scholarly writing is directed at various things. We call some of them “objects” and we use the concepts of our theories to think about them. We have methods to give us data about them that we can then analyze to provide us with knowledge. A lot of our scholarship, however, is also about that knowledge itself, what is already known in our field, or, in some cases, what is falsely believed by our peers. Our writing must direct itself at these ideas too, and it is very important to distinguish between statements that are about the world and statements that are about the thoughts of other knowledgeable people. To this end, we must master the art of citation, referencing. Sometimes, we will write about, not the things in the world, but our equipment for knowing about them: our concepts, our methods, our data, and our instruments for gathering it. In our more philosophical moments, we’ll write about what Kant called “the conditions of the possibility of our knowledge of objects.” In all cases, it is about the direction of our attention.

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