Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 4

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Citing stuff in press

(William M. Connolley 12:49, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)) I'm not sure this is truly the right place for this question but... what is the position with regard to citing articles in press? My understanding is that for the science articles, wiki presents... well, not quite sure how to describe it, but "established science" (with contrary views were necessary). Do theories only supported by in press articles count? I would argue not. See the most recent addition to ice age.

I would argue that articles which have been accepted for publication and have been made publically available in some form prior to formal publication (e.g. preprint servers, author's website, etc.) should be given as much credibility as formal publication itself. Of course, obviously I am a biased since I made the changes to ice age article and am a personal fan of Peter Huybers' work.
Dragons flight 18:34, Feb 10, 2005 (UTC)
I think the editor should just be patient and wait until the item is published -- that way, readers will know that if they want to track the item down, they can, as soon as they want. I think this is important both as a convenience to readers, and to comply fully with the verifiability policy, Slrubenstein 15:48, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
To be clear, I provided a link to the preprint of the article appearing on the author's website. It's not like it isn't publicly available. Dragons flight 16:00, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)
Good. But I think our discussion has to focus on general rules or guidelines, not specific cases. Slrubenstein 16:11, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Well fine. In the general case, I would think that the publicly available work of any reputable scientist, once slated for publication, should be reasonable for citation. There is certainly no problem with citing "in press" papers in the research I do. It is probably also worth noting that nearly all important physics and astronomy papers appear as preprints prior to formal publication and many other sciences are moving in that direction. If you disagree with some part of this as being a reasonable general policy, I would appreciate it if you could be specific about why. Dragons flight 16:40, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)

Just a note: something published in a peer-reviewed journal is not necessarily "accepted science". It is something that was judged to be sufficiently of interest, and sounded sufficiently serious, to be accepted for publication. Before going to the status of "accepted science", it is in general necessary that other authors publish results going in the same direction. (This of course depends on the particular area – natural sciences may need a number convergent experiments, while in mathematics, it is sufficient that a proof is judged to be sound for a theorem to be established.) David.Monniaux 17:24, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

(William M. Connolley 22:04, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)) Just to be clear... I'm not attacking Dragons Flight (and apologies to him if it looked like I was), and indeed he did provide a link to the paper. My point was partly what I said and partly what DM has just said: the difference between published and accepted science. OTOH "published" is easy to judge and "accepted" might be subject to dispute. As I understand it (but can't find, so perahps I'm wrong) wiki does have some kind of policy that only accepted stuff is suitable.

Quoting of unknown pressure groups

Lately, I have come across a number of edits which included quotations (sometimes unattributed) from various groups which had a very specific point of view on a question. Of course, articles must represent all points of views, and I do not dispute that.

However, it appears to me that the value of a reference should be assessed on four aspects:

  1. Quality of the analysis: are there any glaring factual errors? (e.g. a study placing Italy in Africa should probably not be cited as reference)
  2. Expertise: is the author a recognizable institution working in the field? (e.g. a study by an obscure self-employed physicist, not published in a peer-reviewed journal, does not have the same value as a study by researcher in an internationally known institution publishing in a first-class scientific journal, even though the latter may contain mistakes)
  3. Identifiability: is the source traced to a clearly identifiable person, institution, publication, or group? Nowadays, anybody can start a "group" or "institute" and have Web pages, so an "institute" may actually be a handful of persons. That is why I much prefer it when the source has its own well-documented page on Wikipedia. Surely, it matters a lot, when reading the opinion of a source, to know whether the source is a reputed human rights organization, a personal project, or an institute affiliated with or funded by a political party or religious organization.
  4. Representativity: does the group represent a sizeable part of public opinion? To me, it seems that quotes from mostly unknown pressure groups are a subtle workaround of the policy on weasel words, the policy of citing sources, and the policy against citing one's personal opinion.

It seems to me that these aspects are too often ignored, and that some contributors push too much irrelevant opinion quotes in the guise of NPOV. To draw a parallel, the article on George W. Bush does not, and should not, contain opinion pieces from every left-wing group on Earth saying that Bush is stupid and that his policies are a disaster; I do not see why this should be different for other articles.

In addition, I think that, all too often, sources are improperly attributed. For instance, the opinion of a single judge in a lower court in a country is not the opinion of the government of that country. The opinion of some people invited at a conference organized by institution X is not the official point of view of association X. Etc.

I think that all this should be reflected in official Wikipedia policy. David.Monniaux 11:14, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You make very good points and I agree with substantially all of it. But I welcome this kind of debate as being on an entirely higher level of argument than arguing whether we should have sources and properly cited facts at all. I think your criteria above for deciding on the quality of a source is very good, and one that meets more of those criteria should be preferred over one that meets less. Maybe others will have some idea on improving the criteria, and maybe we can even create a separate page for references criteria, start with the above and build a consensus for ways to distinguish between more respected sources and less. It will of course nevr be perfect, but you have made a great start. - Taxman 13:55, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)

See #"Reputable" vs. "Appropriate" sources above. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:23, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)

Disagreement with policy

Sorry, Phils, but you are wrong:

I most violently disagree with some suggestions on the Wikipedia:Cite sources page. Consider the following:

Writing from own knowledge

If you consult an external source while writing an article, citing it is basic intellectual honesty. More than that, you should actively search for authoritative references to cite. If you are writing from your own knowledge, then you should know enough to identify good references that the reader can consult on the subject—you won't be around forever to answer questions.

In my opinion, actively searching for authoritative references is intellectual dishonesty. Such finds belong in Further reading sections, as they are technically not sources, because they weren't used in writing the article. If one writes from their own knowledge, they are the source: anything else is further reading. We might as well turn Wikipedia in a link list if this policy is to be applied.

You are in effect suggesting that readers violate the "no original research policy." Editors simply cannot be the source for articles. I think you misunderstand the policy and also how people come to know things. What the policy means by "writing from their own knowledge" is not that people are writing from their own unmediated experience, but rather that people somewhere along the line learned something, and are not putting it into an article. The point of the policy is that such editors should go back and find the sources that their knowledge comes from, and provide them in the article. There is nothing at all dishonest about this. slrubenstein|talk 17:25, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I think I see what you mean, if an author does not use a reference, but writes from personal knowledge and then adds a book they know about. Is that what you meant? Yes that is not proper, and does seem to be condoned in the above quoted text. How about instead saying If you could write from your own knowledge, you should know.... I am very concerned though when you say "actively searching for authoritative references is intellectual dishonesty". Doing that and writing facts and citing them from that source is ideal referencing, so I don't get how you can say that. I assume you did not mean that quote literally, so what did you mean? - Taxman 17:52, Feb 12, 2005 (UTC)

Learn more about the topic

This applies even when the information is currently undisputed — even if there's no dispute right now, someone might come along in five years and want to dispute, verify, or learn more about a topic.

Emphasis on learn more about the topic. Thus, "Further reading", not a source. Besides, take a look at some of our featured articles about influential people. Now picture the size of the reference sections if this directive were to be religiously applied for every qualitative statement about the subject of the article. Wikipedia, as stated before, would become a link list.

All sources are "further reading" as well. To specifically say something is "further reading" means it was not a direct source. To say something is a "Work Cited" means it was a direct source and could be consulted for further reading. What kind of person would see a citation for a source and conclude that the source is not worth reading if they want to learn more? slrubenstein|talk 17:25, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Adding citations by non-authors

Adding citations to external sources, especially for information in articles not already backed by citations, is also a good way to enhance even articles you didn't write.

Now this is just horrid. This policy is likely to lead to misunderstandings and is dishonest (how can a reference added by someone who is not even the author of the article be a source). It is only applicable in the limited eventuality of an unsourced, questionable statement that needs an inline citation. There's no way a third person can just add a book they feel covers the subject as a source to an article they haven't written. Phils 00:21, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

How is this dishonest? If I read an article and see no need to change it because the article already includes stuff I think is important, I shouldn't edit it. But if I know of more sources to support the article, I most definitely should add them. Frankly, Phils, it seems to me that you fundamentally misunderstand Wikipedia. None of our articles have "authors" -- the author is the entire wiki community. We hope all editors will make many contributions, based on what they have to contribute, Every article is thus the product of an ongoing collaboration, including a collaboration with anonymous users. It is natural that some people will add sources for things they themselves didn't write -- because it simply does not matter who writes what. If you disagree with this policy, then just go away because not only will this policy never change, it is at the heart of wikipedia. But if you accept this policy, I just do not understand your objection to the text you quote. It doesn't make sense. slrubenstein|talk 17:25, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I understand that no one should be given credit for writing an article. I don't see how you derive the of adding so-called sources to article when they weren't even used to write a document from the collaborative editing spirit/policy central to Wikipedia. A source is by definition a document that information was taken from and then incorporated into a new one, not a document readers should refer to if they want additional information. Phils 18:04, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You still do not understand Wikipedia, and it sounds like you do not understand sources. Sources are not as you define them only those works originally consulted in writing an article. It is very, very common that as scholars write an article -- say for publication in a peer-reviewed journal -- they go through many drafts. During this time, a colleague may direct them to a source, or they may discover one. These sources are regularly included in scholarly articles and for a number of reasons: the more sources, the more authoritative the claim; scholars want to give credit to others who have had the same idea (even if two people came up with that idea independently); journal articles do not distinguish between works cited and further reading, so an author wants to cite as many sources as are directly relevant as an aid to readers. This is common practice in writing scholarly articles. If this is true for scholarly articles, where one author may revise an article ten times before submitting it for publication, it is even more true of Wikipedia, where thousands of people revise any given article thousands of times. Every revision is an opportunity to provide another source. All that is important is that the source be directly relevant and confirm the claim made in the article. I'll give just one example of where this is not only allowable, but necessary. Say someone writes an article and uses a college textbook as a source. Okay, this is an acceptable source, but not the ideal source. Someone comes along later, sees the textbook source, but knows the journal article where the information or interpretation or explanation originally came from. Editor two, for the sake of improving the article, should definitely add (or jsut change) the source. This is in no way intellectually dishonest -- as a matter of fact it is very honest because it honestly represents the way articles are written. If you think it is dishonest it can only be because you do not know how articles are written (here at Wikipedia, or for scholarly journals). Take a look at any major journal -- Semiotica, Diacritics, Critical Inquiry, whatever -- and I assure you, in any given article you can bet that many of the citations and references were added after the first draft of the article was written, and were not consulted while the author was writing the first draft. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:35, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Slrubenstein, I appreciate your comments, but find your constant attempts at passing me off as an ignorant unable to understand Wikipedia (whatever that means) rather insulting. I read an average several journal articles per week, and in every article I know, when a specific claim is made, a reference indicating the source for said claim is inserted (e.g.: Richardson[Ri17] demonstrates). I don't know what kind of journals you read, but I consider it rather bad form to simply add a document you know contains proof/evidence of your claim to your documents to cover your back in case someone questions your claims if it wasn't actually used in the making of the document. I believe a distinction should be made between actual references that were used in the making of a document and reading aids for potential readers/reviewers ("Further reading"). Phils 19:06, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I can understand/judge you only based on what you write here. My remarks address what you have written. You write "in every article I know, when a specific claim is made, a reference indicating the" but you do not know when in the process of writing the article that citations was put in. I never claimed that you do not read journal articles. It doesn't matter to me whether you read one or one hundred journal articles a week. My point only has to do with how journal articles are written -- and based on what you have written here, I really think you do not understand how they are written. Whether you know/admit it or not, many citations (such as your example, or hypothetical) are discovered and put in after the text was written. You are the one insulting the scholars who do this, following standard, accepted practice. You may not like it, but this is how things are done. And if you want, you can argue all you want about Wikipedia policy. I suspect that most people, like I, will either not understand or simply not accept your argument. And if you start off saying that you "most violently disagree" -- if you want to bring "violence" (even symbolically) into your own comments, you should be prepared to take what you dish out. If you want to violently disagree, expect those who disagree with you to respond bluntly, or even harshly. Your words invite it. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:25, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I find it exquisitely ironic that your attitude suggesting a rather strong belief that you have profound understanding of the workings of both Wikipedia and scholarly discussion is in such drastic contrast with your obvious inability to distinguish opinions from the person behind them. If I disagree with some wording, it does not invite you to suggest I am a simple minded idiot. As far as I know, there is no Wikipedia policy that is not open for discussion. I wanted to express my disagreement with the way practices that were perceived by the editor of the Wikipedia:Cite sources as being standard or self-evident were worded. Ridiculing my words by inferring that I think I can single-handedly change established policy is a grotesque ad hominem. Your comparison with the scholarly world is invalid, because, as you pointed out yourself, Wikipedia is unique: we have little professional copy-editors, and I maintain that encouraging people to add sources could lead to misunderstanding. The example I gave is an exception: it is a very specific reference to a certain document: a reviewer can be certain that Richardson proved the Slrubenstein conjecture in his paper On Slrubenstein singularities. This is not the case for most references in Wikipedia, which are not inline, but are simply added to a list at the end of the article. Phils 19:56, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I never called you a simple-minded idiot. Perhaps if you read my comments in the spirit in which they were written -- a serious attempt to explain to you not so much that I disagree with your criticism, but rather that I see no foundation for the assumptions your criticism is based on. I never said that the policy is not open for discussion, nor that you should not join the discussion. But discussions go in both directions, and if you want to raise a potential problem, you had better be prepared for the possibility that others will disagree with you. Moreover, I was not just rejecting your critique; I was explaining why I disagree. The comparison to scholarly articles is an analogy to illustrate my point. Even if journal articles were not written the way they are, I would still stand by my criticism of your view. That journal articles are written the way they are, however, certainly illustrates that my point is not idiosyncratic. Whether sources are cited inline (as they are in some Wikipedia articles) or not, there is nothing dishonest about someone adding sources to an existing article. You seem to think that people look at the list of sources as a list of texts that were consulted before writing the article. You claim that you understand that Wikipedia articles do not have just one author, but my point was that the notion of an "original" article doesn't make sense at Wikipedia, so the notion of sources as being only those that were consulted before the wrticle was written makes no sense. Sources are lists of texts added "as" an article is being written, and since Wikipedia articles are always works in progress, anytime someone adds a source it is "as" the article is being written. Now, I never suggested that I thought you believed you could singly- handed change Wikipedia policy -- for you to think I claimed this only means you did not understand what I wrote. I share responsibility for this, and hope that in this comment I am being clearer. In any event, I have made no ad hominem remarks. The only words of yours that I ridicule -- openly and proudly -- is your desire to be violent. For me to point out your own words does not mean I am veing violent in return, it just means I am being honest. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:53, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Indicating fact sources

I'm (mostly) with Slrubenstein here, with the caveat that we still need a great deal of improvement in how we indicate what facts are sourced from where. Also, I'm not sure that current scholarly practice for papers with traditional authorship can be anything more than suggestive of how Wikipedia should work. Wikipedia is something new, and I think we are still feeling our way around to the correct way to handle this issue. 18 months ago, there were almost no citations in the English-language Wikipedia (the German Wikipedia was definitely way ahead of us in this respect, and probably still is). My suspicion is that we will never get to the point where the majority of our articles are really well-sourced, but I think Slrubenstein is roughly correct about how we can head that way, and I'd hope that the articles on what would generally be thought of as scholarly topics can reach a standard comparable to what is expected in academia. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:07, Feb 12, 2005 (UTC)

Later updates and cumulative referencing

OK everybody try to remain calm ;-)

Regarding Phils concern about the intellectual dishonesty of adding references after-the-fact, consider the following. Suppose I see an article and I agree with everything that is written, but I see that the article is badly in need of references, (since none are given). Now I happen to know several references which support all the facts and assertions made in the article. What should I do?

Suppose I decide to entirely rewrite the article, using these references, and adding them to a references section at the end. It turns out, however, that I'm a terrible writer. And a subsequent editor (or editors) comes along and decides that although everything I've written is perfectly correct and very well referenced, the original editor or editors were really better writers (and just as correct) and gradually change my turgid prose into the elegant bit of writing that was there, before I laid my grubby little paws on it — except that they decide to keep my wonderfully appropriate and authoritative references. Now is there anything dishonest or inappropriate about any of the above? Were the references used in the writing of the article?

Keep in mind that this process is entirely public and complete histories of all edits are available for all to view, so that many other editors, including perhaps the original ones, may have been watching over this process, and silently consenting to all that has gone on.

Now consider an alternative scenario. Suppose instead of completely rewriting the article I decide simply to create a references section and add the references to it. Is this situation any different? I think Phils is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that this is dishonest because the references weren't used in writing the article. But I think one could argue that they were used, namely by me, in the last rewrite of the article. One could argue that I have "rewritten" the article (albeit in a modest way) and I used the references in this rewriting. Or that I have "used" the references to fact-check the article.

I see nothing particularly wrong with any of the above hypothetical edits. The alternative view would seem to imply that no one (including the original author) could ever add references after the fact.

Paul August 21:37, Feb 12, 2005 (UTC)

Sometimes write first, cite later

Yeah, yeah, but the key (I think) is that all Wikipedia articles are works in progress, collective works in progress, at that, and that there is nothing at all dishonest about writing a sentence first and coming up with a citation for it afterwards. This is absolutely normal. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:56, Feb 12, 2005 (UTC)

Personally, I agree with Jmabel, Paul August and Slrubestein over this issue, and (with respect) disagree with Phils over his thoughts on referencing. I'm not going to go into the whole "violently disagree" issue, as that's just a figure of speech, IMO. - Ta bu shi da yu 09:56, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Meaning of a reference

A running theme in this talk page seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what "references" mean. In actual professional publications, they are often added after the the paper was written (sometimes suggested by referees), often indicate further reading rather than sources used to write an article (and, in fact, the two "categories" are largely indistinguishable...a good source is often good further reading, and vice versa). The only thing professional scholars regard as dishonest is not citing something you used; citing something you didn't "use" but believe is related and helpful for readers is not only acceptable but is actively encouraged. Don't base your understanding of referencing on high-school homework assignments. —Steven G. Johnson 20:31, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)

Professional scholars are also expected to know what sources state contradict what they are stating. Sometimes they are writing something which contradicts something previous and will specifically mention the issue in the text. Sometimes they may include a contradictory reference to show they are aware of the topic even if they don't deal with that issue (or it may be peripheral to the present work). ...and sometimes a reference might not be removed although the text which used the reference is removed during editing before publication. (SEWilco 22:30, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC))
In Wikipedia, sometimes references have a life of their own. I just saw one article with "See also" containing links to a wide assortment of related WP articles. They are all related to the article in various ways. What I've seen happen is such baskets of references accumulate until they contain subgroups and they can be rearranged to make more sense. Some changes will be done by editors and some by experts. However, it is helpful for there to be supporting material of various types both for readers and WP editors. (SEWilco 22:30, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC))

Update what you know

Considering how often "what everyone knows" is not true, it is a good idea to check what you know. References should at least include enough for an equal to confirm information. As Wikipedia is intended for a wide range of readers, some references to introductory materials on the topic is a courtesy to less experienced readers. In Wikipedia, references to general information might be provided by Wikilinks to articles. However, often an expert forgets that not everyone knows the background material; readers which have to dig to find information to understand something can help others by adding needed info. For that matter, I had to wade through the above discussion to figure out the issues -- and added subheadings to help future readers. (SEWilco 22:30, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC))

It's not there if it isn't sourced

There's a simple answer about this. The primary wikipedia "process" isn't writing, it's editing. Whilst a source may not have been used in writing, it will have been used in fact checking which is done by looking for a good source for each fact. If no source can be found then the fact should, according to policy, be deleted. This means that it's the fact checker (the one who provides the source) rather than the author who can take responsibility for the fact and who used the source. The original writing should rather, even if used unchanged, be seen as a "useful hint" for the final editor about what to look for in the different sources. That may not be intuitive to everybody, but it is intellectually clear and honest once you understand it... Mozzerati 14:45, 2005 Feb 26 (UTC)

Digital Object Identifiers

Should digital object identifier (DOI) be mentioned?

Template is at Template:Doi

{{doi|10.1016/j.coi.2004.08.001}} produces: doi:10.1016/j.coi.2004.08.001 (SEWilco 00:45, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC))

Question 1: Removing citations

What about edits that remove citations? Especially citations to government admission of actions which the editor disputed took place. and which become part of edit war.

Usually the edit war is not over the citation per se as the content; resolve the problem concerning content, and the citation problem will get solved too. Also, I think in most cases the conflict might involve whether the citation is being used appropriately. Anyway, I think the thing to do is settle on the content of the page, then put in the correct citations. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:13, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • And when the "solution" one side of the edit war has, is to rename the article to a different subject? Or to remove the content they do not like and later re-insert a twisted version of the content to give a negative and false impression of the original subject?--Daeron 00:36, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Question 2: Plagiarism

When multiple sentences or entire paragraphs have been copied verbatim from other works without credit, should a notice be added until it is either credited or re-worded. Also, when a source is in the public domain with a well displayed request that any copy be credited; what is the Wikipedia opinion; credit, or no credit of the source?--Daeron 14:30, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You should always credit your sources, even if 1) you don't copy verbatim, or 2) the source is public domain. Plagiarism is orthogonal to copyright issues. dbenbenn | talk 15:48, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Anyone brave enough to comment on this talk page Talk:Demographics_of_Lebanon or attempt an edit on the article itself? I can not, OneGuy seems to be convinced that I am the son of Satan or something or that I'm hoelessly pro-black human rights and anti-Islam or something and that I'm therefore not entitled to edit Wikipedia articles.--Daeron 00:26, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)