Re: references/ National Dance Assoc.

Darren Kelly (
Mon, 5 Jan 1998 14:17:32 +0100 (MET)

> There is actually a recognised referencing code for citing from electronic forms and, as the
> Internet has a history of being a primary source of information exchange between academics - your
> statement seems a little out of kilter - or are you referring to performance educators (who are not
> necessarily academics, but often drawn from the industry(
> Lesley


Dear Lesley,

In a reply to Mary-Lou I said I'd leave this thread, but your reply was
sent earlier. So I'll again promise to make some final remarks on this
non dance but topical matter, and anyone interested in responding
should perhaps mail me directly. I'm certainly open to any suggestions.

Also remember that all although we physicists are stuffy old farts
sometimes, my sister institute CERN invented the web. I used to be in
astrophysics; perhaps no other discipline embraced email so heartily so
early. I've been using email now for over ten years daily. I'm not trying
to pull rank, neither am I claiming that my opinions are representative of
my colleagues. It is however curious that exactly the journals of THESE
disciplines do not support quotation of electronic sources nearly so
heartily as many others. I can recall many conversations years ago with
colleagues about these matters (before most of you knew what email was
let alone the web), so consider my remarks to be interesting by virtue
of my experience alone. Just and only that, interesting.

So my subjective opinion is:

Person-to-person email : should be considered no different from
other correspondence. Cite with "pers.comm". I very rarely pay
any attention to such citations unless I actually know the person,
i.e. it is someone so well know in their area that noone would dare
misrepresent them (see how subjective it must be ?). It can be
strengthened by actually quoting part of the text of the message.

Such citations don't tell the reader much unless you hound the
author for a readable source, in which case the author might as
well have found a citable source. Pers.Comm never achieves much.
You'd be surprised how often requests for consolidation are met
with silence.

Newsgroup mail: stronger reference. Should ONLY be quoted with
permission of the author. Otherwise the nature of exchange on
newsgroups will become too restricted. This is a dangerous source,
since it is not certain that the person actually typed what is written.
How do you know who was logged on ? You don't and can't.

And besides, Mark might be a careful archiver, not all are.
Yes, archives can be too easily corrupted by those with a hidden agenda.

Web pages: Too transient to carry great weight. Appropriate when
the citation is not employed to JUSTIFY A CLAIM OR ARGUMENT.
Cross checking in the future is too difficult. Many pages are
not even stored on filing systems of major institutes for more
than a couple of months.

Again, many consider the web an opportunity to "speak freely",
and will hesitate if they are scared they may be quoted. Cite
ONLY with _WRITTEN_ permission.

Electronic journals: I strongly support electronic publication
of peer-reviewed journals and citations thereof.

These hesitations aside, common sense it was counts.


Specifically to Lesley: There is no such thing as a "recognised
referencing code", as little as there is agreement on citation formats. It
depends entirely on who does the recognising ! Even within my scientific
community there are as many different author/paper formats are there are
journals. There are at most habits that establish themselves.

There are indeed attempts to agree on citation methods (not just
restricted to citing electronic sources), but they seldom meet
agreement. Note that CERN, the home of the web, is NOT an American
institute, so of course you get about the same degree of agreement
as you did on language conventions during the formation of the EC:
none whatsoever. And that's just on the quotability of the web, let
alone existing electronic media.

Lets take an example:

Columbia Online Style:
MLA-Style Citations of Electronic Sources
(Endorsed by the Alliance for Computers & Writing)

How many journals are there ? And how many are members of this alliance ?
And who appointed them ? I've never even heard of them. Note that they
organisation actually seems to be in favour of computers, i.e. it does
not represent "neutral" science but a strong self-interest (maybe). It
certainly doesn't carry the weight of a group like ANSI.

I'm sure it'll settle down to a few conventions, maybe one or two.

And even if the conventions are adopted, there will certainly never
be agreement over the "strength" of citations of electronic media.


Darren Kelly | | |
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