13 posts categorized "URLs"

September 23, 2009

Will URLs Be Lost in the Arcades?

Annie Hill

by Annie Hill

APA now recommends including homepage URLs for journal or publisher websites but complete URLs for material that may be harder to locate. This can be confusing to readers who want to know when, exactly, to resort to homepage URLs and when to plunk the whole string into a reference. I was trying to think of a way to clarify this guidance for users when I realized that there is more to the story.

We know that long URLs take up space and can contain irrelevant strings of session identifiers that may be clickable but are of no use to the reader. We know that a shortened or homepage URL is sometimes intuitive; there’s no need to direct readers to a specific link at the New York Times, for example, when they can use a search box (and your source may well be behind a subscription wall by the time a URL is entered).

So when is a full URL necessary? Surely it should be included in its entirety when it will help the reader locate the source. A direct link to archived material may be easier to use than a link to a homepage when a site’s organization is complex or when an article has been posted ahead of print publication and may not yet be indexed.

But URLs are ephemeral in nature; they may be broken or lead nowhere once a reader attempts to use them. That’s another reason to cite home page URLs when a site can be searched; home page URLs are more stable.

Furthermore, sites themselves may be updated frequently, making URLs useless as archival referents—and some types of citations may be as ephemeral as their URLs. A tweet, for example, may not qualify as a lasting retrievable source, but despite my conviction that she’s a kindred spirit, I know that Tina Fey is not personally corresponding with me when she updates her Twitter account.

The question might really be: Why do we include URLs at all?

As Anne noted in her post last week, the Modern Language Association, whose style guide is used most often for work in the humanities, recently made a controversial decision to omit URLs from references, and another prominent style guide, Chicago, reminds us that a URL points only to a possible location of a source rather than to its identity. Authors, dates, titles, and publisher information like DOIs are still the real identifiers of a source.

It occurs to me, though, that URLs do serve a purpose. Citations themselves constitute an archive—they are evidence of how we categorize and search for material in the early twenty-first century. This may be a matter not just of history but of historiography.

It’s true that I may do better to paste author, date, and title information into a search box than I would to rely on the information in a URL. What a URL does tell me is where someone found the source at a particular period in time, and that may be reason enough to include it.

September 22, 2009

A DOI and URL Flowchart

Chelsea blog

by Chelsea Lee

Yesterday I talked about the basics of DOIs. Today I'll be unveiling a flowchart about using DOIs and URLs in your references.

The most common questions we have gotten at APA since the introduction of the 6th edition of the Publication Manual have to do with using DOIs, URLs, and database information in reference citations. We on the blog team have done our best to analyze what the manual has to say about this matter, and the flowchart below illustrates the principles at work.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the flowchart, or you can download a PDF of the flowchart (with hyperlinks to CrossRef) here: Download DOI and URL Flowchart

DOI and URL Flowchart_revised 922

We hope that the flowchart will be helpful to you. Stay tuned for tomorrow, when Annie will be sharing a blog on the nebulous nature of URLs.

September 17, 2009

DOIs and URLs: Special Focus Next Week

AnneG The sixth edition of the Publication Manual and its ancillary books have now been off press for several months. One of our goals in the revision of the manual was to simplify reference style; for example, retrieval dates are no longer required for most sources, and digital object identifiers (DOIs), when available, replace uniform resource locators (URLs) as persistent and reliable links to locate sources. However, the latter recommendation has led readers to pose several complex and challenging questions about the use of DOIs and URLs in electronic references that warrant further discussion and clarification.

We are at a crossroads in the publishing industry. Evolving web-based technological innovations have led to varying recommendations from publishers on which elements to include in an online reference citation. For example, according to the 15th edition of the  Chicago Manual of Style, an online reference with a DOI includes both DOI and URL:

James W. Friedman and Claudio Mezzetti, “Learning in Games by Random 
Sampling," Journal of Economic Theory 98, no. 1 (May 2001),
doi:10.1006/jeth.2000.2694, http://www.idealibrary.com/links/doi
/10.1006/jeth.2000.2694.

The citation to a web document according to the seventh edition of the  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers should include a URL only “when the reader probably cannot locate the source without it or when your instructor requires it.” The reference with a URL looks like this:

Eaves, Morris, Robert Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, eds. The William 
Blake Archive
. Lib. of Cong., 28 Sept. 2007. Web. 20 Nov. 2007.
<http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/>.

Another variation can be found in the second edition of the Columbia Guide to Online Publishing, which requires information on CrossRef as the source for the DOI, another format for the DOI, and an exact retrieval date:

International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. “Initial 
Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome.” Nature:
International Weekly Journal of Science
409 (2001): 860–921.
Crossref.org. http://crossref.org (Links: For Researchers
/DOI Resolver/). DOI:10.1038/35057062 (25 Aug 2006).

With retrievability the shared goal, these three manuals demonstrate three different methods for citing online resources. So, when and how do we include DOIs and URLs in APA Style references? Next week, we will have several blog posts that focus on these important and evolving topics in an effort to clarify the rules. Please join us!

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