Sites for citations?

January 10, 2008

Many academics would agree with Tim Birkhead's insistence that articles should "cite the first reference to report a particular fact or concept". This is probably one of the reasons that universities (in my experience) tell undergraduates that when they refer to something they read at second hand they should give a secondary citation, mentioning both the original and the source they actually read. However, I wonder whether everyone agrees when he says that colleagues who fail to do this are "mis-citing". The widely followed publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (fifth edition, page 215) says: "Authors should choose references judiciously and must include only the sources that were used in the research and preparation of the article."

Perhaps there is a need for a wider debate on this issue?

Mike Griffiths,

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