Wednesday, January 09, 2013

How to reference a web link

My previous two posts were about using web links and whether they should they be paid for. As a Lecturer I obviously grade many projects, assignments, and essays - almost all nowadays reference on-line resources. I insist on all sources being cited, and warn students about the consequences of plagiarism. Many students feel that it is enough to simply add a web link to the end of a paragraph, or in a footnote, or in a "Bibliography". This is poor scholarship and will certainly lead to marks being lost, but does usually prevent accusations of plagiarism. So how do you do it correctly?

Suppose you want to reference the article in the on-line edition of The Irish Times of 6th January written by Johnny Ryan "Links are lifeblood of the web - unauthorised use of content is not", which I referred to in my previous post, using the Harvard Style. Perhaps you are writing an essay about copyright and the unauthorized use of third-party content. For example, you might refer to it as follows:

                        A recent case involving The Irish Times and the Women's Aid charity has stirred some debate in Ireland about the use of content from another source - specifically linking to that content from another site. Should you have to pay for this? Ryan (2013) separates the benign issue of “linking to” content from the more fraught issue of “reproduction of” content when discussing the use of web links.........                        

Note that the article in the main body of the text is simply referred to as "Ryan (2013)" - you do not put the wed address (URL) here, just give the author and year of publication. Note also that the quotation from the article is in italics. The full reference to this article must be provided in a bibliography at the end of the essay/project. For above it is as follows:

                Ryan, J. (2013). Links are lifeblood of the web - unauthorised use of content is notAvailable from: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0107/1224328506501.html [Accessed 7th January, 2013].                       

Note that the name of the author, year of publication, the full title of the article in italics, the full URL, and when this URL was last accessed is provided.

Learning how to do this properly is a good skill to have. If you plan to do a Masters or PhD you just simply have to do this correctly at all times. Undergraduate students should do this as well for two reasons: First, it is the right thing to do. Second - you won't lose marks. It is also a good idea to cite sources in business, whether you are displaying a chart from another site, quoting from another source, or simply displaying a graphic - add underneath the source. Not only does it make you look good and that you have carried out careful research, it is also the right thing to do.

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