15 posts categorized "URLs"

October 23, 2009

How to Cite Twitter and Facebook, Part I: General

[Note 10/18/2013: Please view an updated and expanded version of this post at http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/10/how-to-cite-social-media-in-apa-style.html]


Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

Because posts from online social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are not yet often fodder for scholarly research, specific reference examples aren’t included in the Publication Manual. Well, whenever you need a reference format for something that’s not explicitly covered in the manual, you can adapt our examples to meet your needs (see p. 193). I’ll show you how, using example posts from President Obama’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

To cite a Twitter or Facebook feed as a whole or to discuss it in general, it is sufficient to give the site URL in text, inside parentheses. There is no need for a reference list entry.           

President Obama uses Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/barackobama) and 
Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/barackobama) to keep citizens up 
to speed on his initiatives, especially health care reform and Supreme 
Court nominations. 

 It’s the same method you’d use to cite a website as a whole (see this FAQ).

 On Monday I will address citing particular Twitter or Facebook posts.

September 24, 2009

What to Use—The Full Document URL or Home Page URL?

Paige-for-web-site 75x75

by Paige Jackson

Following on from Annie’s post yesterday on URLs, today I wanted to share some tips that might help in deciding what to use when. With the increasing predominance of electronic publishing, it’s a challenge to know how best to cite documents you find online. The DOI is the gold standard, and eventually all documents will have their own DOIs. In the meantime, it’s not always easy to know what to do. If you find a document on the Internet (but not from a database) that you want to cite for which there is no DOI, is it better to cite the full document URL or the publisher home page URL?

The question to ask before deciding which to include is, Which will be most helpful to the reader in locating the document? The following are some instances when the homepage URL would be most helpful (all examples refer to Chapter 7 in the Publication Manual):

  • Subscription wall—If the document is available online only by subscription, the document URL would not be accessible by nonsubscribers. The homepage URL, however, lets the reader know who the publisher is and therefore what databases the reader might look to to access the document.
  • Unstable document URL—If the publisher is one for which document URLs are subject to change, the home page URL is more likely to be helpful (see Examples 11 and 19a).

In the following cases, the full document URL is likely to take the reader to the source more reliably:

  • Publisher website that’s difficult to search—Some publisher homepages—such as those of government agencies or nongovernmental organizations—can be difficult to search, so citing the full URL for a document that takes the reader directly to the document may save time (see Examples 9, 31, and 33).
  • Message posted to a blog or other online forum—Similarly, it can be difficult to locate a particular message on a blog website, so providing the URL that will lead the reader to the message would be the best choice (see Examples 74–77).

This list is not exhaustive—we hope it will give a sense of factors that should guide your decision. A URL is imperfect in pointing the reader to an electronic source, but for many sources, it’s the best we can do. So don’t belabor the issue—make an informed guess as to whether the publisher home page URL or the full document URL is more likely to lead the reader to the document in question, and move on!

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

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.

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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