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How to cite social media

September 2013


Given the popularity of internet sources among researchers (especially the less experienced ones) these days, there is a tendency for many to rely on online resources rather than put some effort to browse actual libraries for references such as hard copies of books and journals. Research supervisors usually allow this for cases when the online resource happens to be electronic or digital versions of published material. There are both formal and informal sources online for such published material including online versions of journals managed by reputable publishers like SpringerOpen and Science Direct and websites by researchers and research centers themselves like the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. These are rich sources of refereed/reviewed material that are highly recommended for any literature review that students and researchers need to do before embarking on any serious work.

Nowadays, however, there have been a lot of other material found online including those on blogs, YouTube video, Twitter, Facebook and email that have been gaining acceptance as valid references. For example, it is possible that an interview may be conducted through an exchange of emails or via the chat features of Facebook. Lectures or talks like the popular can be found on YouTube or at TED. As such, these materials should be cited properly in research work.

I found this article on “How to cite social media…” on Facebook and below is a graphic that provides a guide for social media citation:

citing guide

Obviously, I deliberately posted this material on proper citations here to remind people using or intending to use material from my posts in their research or other purposes. It is also quite timely considering the news featuring a plagiarist (i.e., a person passing off someone else’s work as their own).

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