The citation of sources serves a number of functions:
- it identifies the location of a text (in whatever format), so that the citation can be followed up by another individual.
- (in non-electronic format) it is a check on the validity of argument.
- it apportions credit where credit is due.
If these requirements are borne in mind, the necessary general structure of the citation of sources on the web is fairly easy to work out; though as yet there is no accepted and universally employed standard. The following is a practical suggestion: if your institution has its own guidelines which meet the requirements listed above, use that format instead.
If information is located through a subject gateway (such as the Robert Graves Archive), then the gateway, which is the initial search tool, should be cited. In this case, the Archive suggests:
The name of the gateway, together with an indication of what it is:
The Robert Graves ArchiveThe current URL of the gateway:
If the opening file is one of the defaults, such as "index.html", "home.html", or "intro.html", then it is not necessary to quote it in the address, but it is important to include the final forward slash, to indicate to the browser that it is looking for a default file in a directory. The gateway need only be cited once, if it is stated that the subsequent addresses were found through its pages.
The individual documents found elsewhere on the web should be cited in a similar manner: quote the name of the site (usually found in the title bar). For example:
The Robert Graves Society Information Centrethis should be followed by its current location on the web. Until the 18/19 of August 1998 this was:
Though the Society can still be reached at this address (September 1998) because of redirection files on the Nene College Server, the actual location of the files has been changed. The new address is the one which should be cited. It is:http://www.sjc.ox.ac.uk/graves/
The date of the site access should also be indicated. Since web pages change, sometimes frequently, this is very important. Giving the date of access may serve to explain minor textual differences, or even totally different sets of pages. There is as yet no way of attaching a usable imprimatur to web pages, and so citation of web documents is more hazardous than in the world of paper text. This situation is likely to continue for some time.
Pulling the above example together, an access to The Robert Graves Society Information Centre, found through the Robert Graves Archive, might be cited as follows:At:
- The Robert Graves Society Information Centre
- URL: http://www.sjc.ox.ac.uk/graves/
- accessed 31-Sept-98
- Subject gateway: The Robert Graves Archive
- URL: http://homes.ukoln.ac.uk/~lispjh/graves/
The Robert Graves Archive is interested in the way the Archive is used, and would appreciate feedback on the circumstances in which it is cited. Please feel free to mail us about your use of the Archive.
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Page updated 01 Oct 1998
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