Letters to the Editor

Letter: URL citations not the solution

By
Thursday, September 17, 2009

To the Editor:

Regarding Tuesday’s op-ed (“Rethinking citations,” Sept. 15): Dan Davidson’s ’11 point about hyperlinked citations is a good one but in a sense moot, since most citation style sheets I’m familiar with would require you to use a URL for any online source you cite anyway. I would take issue with the notion that a URL all by itself is sufficient for a citation (although I’m not entirely sure that’s what he’s suggesting). As a reader of scholarly literature, I often glance at a citation’s author and maybe its source (i.e. a refereed journal title or perhaps who published the book) to get a quick fix on its authority. I suspect most faculty members do the same. So not having that data present would force me to leave reading the article and chase down the URL (which may or may not still exist). The real problem is that a printed-out paper doesn’t have the ability to make the “live link.” I agree that this ability to link directly to your source is quite a major leap forward in scholarly method.

The good news is, citation management is now fairly easy. The Brown libraries have made a YouTube video describing the value of citation managers. The library website also has a page dedicated to these tools. Classes in all three of the managers we use at Brown (EndNote, RefWorks and Zotero) are available online.

Ned Quist
Music Librarian
Sept. 15