Written sources are definitely the norm when it comes to academic citations, said Lisa White, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley and chair of AGU’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. But there’s a need to be more inclusive, said White, and to recognize that a lot of knowledge, particularly that associated with Indigenous communities, is not recorded in written form. “There’s a real rich history that a lot of Indigenous scholars bring.”
Lorisia MacLeod, learning services librarian at the Alberta Library in Edmonton, Alta., Canada, first realized there was a need for better citation tools for oral communication while studying anthropology as an undergraduate. Several of her professors repeatedly emphasized how difficult it was to properly acknowledge the unrecorded oral teachings of Indigenous communities in their research. They “drilled home the point that there were limitations in the academic system,” MacLeod said.
In 2018, MacLeod began developing citation templates for oral teachings.