Citations to blogs?

Henry has, at Crooked Timber, a pointer to a post by Andrew Gelman regarding the matter of whether a blog entry deserves citing for initiating a line of research that later grows into something more substantial by another scholar.

This blog has received one citation that I know of in the published literature, on p. 1 of Rein Taagepera’s, Predicting Party Sizes (Oxford, 2007). The cited entry is on the Palestinian legislative electoral system.

And, yes, of course, if a scholar (or journalist, for that matter) sees something on a blog and then builds on the ideas seen there, the blog should be cited. Seems straightforward to me. Henry suggests it is slightly less so, albeit deserving of credit. He notes that a ‘blogpost’ (is it now one word?) is not quite the same as either “personal communication” or an actual publication. True enough. But it is closer to the latter inasmuch as it is attributable and publicly available in a way that “personal communication” is not, even if it has less permanence than a journal article, book, or perhaps even a working paper series or conference paper. ((And clearly has no formal peer review, but then neither do some examples of these other outlets.)) There is a very well established protocol for citing personal communication, so there should be one for citing blog entries. Or so it seems to me.

0 thoughts on “Citations to blogs?

  1. Yes, I don’t really understand why there should be much debate about it–if someone else gave you an idea about something or mentioned something first, then you give them credit.

  2. The group linguist blog Language Log was once cited in an academic paper/journal. The site seems down right now or I would search for it and link to it myself. They had a post dedicated to the citation (I think it was early last year…maybe March)…so I know it’s findable.

  3. It seems pretty obvious to me. If an idea an idea or information comes from somewhere or some one other than yourself, then I think it needs to be attributed. I actually think that the difference between a “blogpost” and an actual publication is pretty small and fairly arbitrary in this day and age.

    I had a reviewer once who was hung up on the need for each and every reference to come from a peer-reviewed journal, which is silly. Of course any information critical to the validity of the work needs to come from valid sources, but citation, in my mind has two purposes, both establishing validity/credibility AND attributing credit for work done before that provided a foundation for the research. If that work appears as a “blogpost”, then that post ought to be cited. (That said, if you have any other way to refer to that particular work that doesn’t require citing a blog, you’d probably save yourself a lot of hassle by just using that…)

  4. EFL, I was wondering where you were! In the orchard is always a good place to be (or so I like to think).

    Very good points on citations and peer review. On the latter, we actually only recently had a clarification on this at my department. We had thought that “primary published work,” which is the main category of assessment of our career progress, meant peer review. It was recently redefined as something like “original creative work,” whether or not peer reviewed. I doubt my reviewers are going to accept plantings in this virtual orchard, but the point is that there are standards more important than peer review, per se.

    On the comment system, the only change is that you now have the opportunity to edit your own comment for a period of time after initial posting. I think I have it set at 20 minutes.

  5. Andrew Gelman does not in this case claim that Atkinson, Enos, and Seth got any of their ideas from him. “Even though Atkinson, Enos, and Hill probably came up with their ideas on their own and only encountered my blog entry later (as noted above, they went far beyond my speculations and did actual research), it would still be appropriate to cite it as relevant early work.”

    So there was not a clear need to cite Gelman, although it might have been useful for readers.

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