History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk > References and Research

Sources

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Jarhead0331:
When I was a student the internet was still in its infancy and using articles posted on the internet as source material for a serious historical publication was not the norm, and was discouraged for reasons of unreliability and trustworthiness.

I imagine much has changed over the last 25 years, but I recently took the time to look at the source list for an article published in one of my favorite monthly print publications and was surprised to see citations to forum posts and the Wikipedia. This strikes me as somewhat unprofessional, in that generally forum posts and even the wiki can be based highly on opinion and questionable and unverifyable research.

Am I just showing my age, or is this still a disfavored practice that brings the quality of the publication and article into question?

The_Admiral:
Except as an item of research (for instance regarding a sociology paper related to internet forums behavior, and the likes) I wouldn't imagine adding anything of the kind to my list of references. Same thing with Wikipedia, that by its very DNA cannot be considered a source at all anyway (considering that, in theory, everything posted on Wikipedia HAS to be sourced prior to its existence...!)

Besides primary sources (an interview on Youtube, an online database, etc...) blog Posts and lite-research (i.e. The Conversation) are something else entirely if the author is duly identified. These could actually be allowed in my vision of a bibliography. Besides some articles might also only be available on internet (especially if they never got published), through Research Gate for instance. If this is the only way to access it, then I will mention it. For any web-based source, the time of access naturally matters too.

But then again, to each his own. I wouldn't allow it if I was to tutor someone in my fields (history, political science & economics) that's for sure.

Tripoli:
IMHO, it depends.  I wouldn't cite Wikipeda for anything, but I frequently go to wikipedia to see what sources it is citing for a proposition, and if some of them are edited or published.  I would then use those souces, if they addressed the proposition I was trying to establish.  Bottom line: if it is peer reviewed or edited, I would consider using it, even if it were published on the internet.  For example, the Naval War College Review is a printed publication, but it is also published on the internet. Cf. https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/nwc-review/vol72/iss3/1/    I would have no problem citing it.    Similarly, an article from a newspaper could be cited, even if it were on-line.  What I wouldn't generally do is cite a blog post or a webpage when I was writing for a serious publication.  However, even this comes with some caveats.  For example, for certain narrow topics a particular web author may be an authority. If there are no other writings on that topic, and the author is particularly knowledgeable on the topic, it may be permissible to cite a webpost by that author. In other words, there needs to be some indicia of reliability in the information.  Something that is edited or peer reviewed presumably has such reliability.  (But not always: Cf. https://areomagazine.com/2018/10/02/academic-grievance-studies-and-the-corruption-of-scholarship/).  Similarly, a posting by a recognized expert within his area of expertise presumably has this indicia of reliablity, even if not edited or peer reviewed.  However, if I were to use a non-edited source in an scholarly publication, I would include a reason in the notes as to why I believed it to be accurate.  For example, a footnote explaining that the author of the cited document is a recongnized expert, that there are no contradictory sources to what they claim, etc. 

I agree with "The_Admiral" on the issue of primary sources on the internet.  If the internet post is a primary source, then it is permissible to use it, even if it were only on the internet.  For instance, I could cite to a video interview of a WWII veteran describing an incident, even if the incident isn't recorded in any edited publication.

Gusington:
I am a few years older than you JH but I would never accept a Wiki page as a solid source.

Maybe the sources used on the Wiki itself, but not the page on its own for reasons cited above...mostly because a Wiki can be edited by anyone and is open to bias from everywhere.

W8taminute:
My high school aged daughters tell me that they are allowed to cite the internet as sources for research papers.  The only internet sites that their school will accept however, are government (.gov) or credible .org websites.  Wikipedia is forbidden.

Personally I would not use the internet at all for a bibliography but I'm old school.  (and f-king proud of it)

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