Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Citing Electronic Resources in Research

I commented recently on Denver Journal's latest including their New Testament Exegesis Bibliography. On Bible Software Review Weblog, Rubén Gómez comments and now adds a response to an email from David Lang about the fact that many do not know how to reference electronic resources:
As for the comment that "even if a student or scholar properly cites an electronic resource, most of that student's professors or that scholar's peers may not KNOW the conventions for citing electronic resources, and so may regard such sources of information to be less credible or more difficult to verify than good, old-fashioned books", I think that's exactly the point I was trying to make. Many people have not made the "switch" to electronic-based research yet, and it's about time we all did. Beginnings are always difficult, and standardized citing conventions may still be in a state of flux, but we have to hang in there. I believe we have to encourage the use of digital tools, and apply to them the same critical thinking approach we should use when we work with any other sources.
I agree with all of this and would add a couple of points:

(1) The citing of internet resources at least is now, I would say, beginning to gather a conventional format along the following lines:
Author, Title, URL, accessed on [date].
Some add "available from" in front of the URL and there are other minor variations, but I would say that this format is now becoming fairly standard in published work. It's the convention we insist on for students here in Birmingham, though it's often an uphill battle getting them to adhere to it.

(2) It is essential that scholars lead the way on this and explain to their students how to discriminate between good and bad electronic resources, how to reference them and so on. I've seen too many examples of scholars thinking that the internet must be bad because they are not leading their students but getting led by them. Happily, one hears less of the "it's all rubbish on the internet" these days. Less happily, there are many who still do not take electronic resources seriously and are falling well behind some of their students on this.

No comments: