A little rant about universities and papers.

So I'm currently working on my Bachlor's Thesis (something about OpenSAMM and web applications...) and I've had quite the good talk with my advisor and one of his colleagues about my work yesterday.

One thing that bugs me out, though, is that they (rightfully) critizised my usage of references in what I like to call "blah-blah sections". You know, those introductory paragraphs where you talk about your subject and try to get people engaged, but don't actually contribute anything of value to your work.

Back in the days when I started out at university, I used to cite heavily throughout my works since that was what they told me in school: you have to cite everything that's not common knowledge. But during the almost-3-years at university, with every paper I wrote, I more and more left out the references in those sections.

Why is that? Because all of my advisors in seminars and so on told me: You cite too much!

So I see a discrepancy here, don't you? Now, either I'm stupid and just don't get when to cite, or there are some people at university who just don't know how to write research papers. And since I generelly believe that I'm not dumb as a stick when it comes to figuring stuff like that out, and people at the university often times actually ARE not that bright...

Thus, my plead would be: Please, please have a mandatory course on how to write a good research paper and have EVERYONE visit it! There are so many methodical and technical details you have to learn by hard trial-and-error, all on your own. Why not give away the knowledge, why not have someone with LOTS of experience tell the students how it's done correctly, i.e. a professor.

Why do I have to learn something so fundamental, so important from someone with little to no experience in writing research papers (i.e. teachers, research fellows, young doctorates etc.) when there are so many competent people out there who could do a better job and set good standards?