Thursday, October 30, 2008

Citing Blogs

Some of my students have been asking how to cite blogs and other internet sources. I found a set of instructions on the NCBI website and I thought Id share them with you [26. Electronic Mail and Discussion Forums].

According to those instructions, you should cite Pharyngula like this:
Myers PZ (University of Minnesota, Morris, MN). Pharyngula [blog on the Internet]. New York: ScienceBlogs LLC. [2006 Jan] - [cited 2007 May 16]. Available from:
I'm not sure I agree with everything that's there. For example, I don't think it's useful to have the date when the blog started (2006, Jan). I don't think we need the affiliation of the author, or where the blog is published—unless it's part of a collective. I think it's important to cite a specific posting if that's what you're referring to.

Here's how I would cite today's posting on worshiping golden cows.
Myers, P.Z. (2008) Pharyngula [Internet blog] - "Where's Charlton Heston when you need him?" (Oct. 29, 2008) [cited Oct. 30, 2008]. ScienceBlogs LLC, New York. Available from:
Here are some examples of how to cite comments on blogs [Examples of Citations to Blogs]. In the first example the author is unknown. In the second example the comment author is identified by affiliation.
Teresa. Comment on: "Flo's pledge: deal or no deal?" 2007 May 12 [cited 2007 May 16]. In: Kim. Emergiblog: The Life & Times of an ER Nurse [Internet]. San Francisco: Emergiblog. c2005-2007 - . [about 1 screen]. Available from: scroll down to comments.

Lanard J (Western Pacific Regional Office of the World Health Organization, Manila, Philippines). Comment on: "This blog can save your life!" and "Health Communication: Science and Art." 2006 Oct 15 [cited 2007 May 17]. In: Bernhardt JM. Director's Blog [Internet]. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US), National Center for Health Marketing. [2006 Jul 13] - . [about 2 screens]. Available from: scroll down to locate comment.

1 comment:

  1. Unless the students are submitting work that's directly related to taking information off of the internet, I usually give them the advice that my honours thesis advisors gave me: If the internet source is credible, it will cite primary literature, and you should cite that.

    Obviously there are times when you'll want to pull a specific quotation off of a blog, or a figure that's specific to the web, but the internet also gives us the ability to edit our writing after the fact. As a rather specific example, a Japanese newspaper recently changed the text of a previously published article, in order to remove a quotation. So all of a sudden, references to this particular comment led to an article where no such comment was to be found.

    Obviously we need a proper way to cite blogs, but it would probably be a good idea to have a way to reference back to the original source via some archive.