Posted by: Clive | June 10, 2008

Citing from the web

As you know, some of my current research concerns the emergence of blogs and their relationship to democratic processes. A great deal of the information I am analysing appears on the web; journals; articles on web pages; reports on government and non-governmental organisation sites; blog posts. In order to cite these sources in my own writing I adopt the Harvard (also known as the author-date) citation convention. Help on using this convention is readily available in various tutorials and help pages (here, here, and here). One of the problems I have though is that because the web is intrinsically dynamic web pages change, ‘disappear’, are re-named, or re-positioned. Following up a citation some time after it was initially accessed can lead to the dreaded:


Some of the style guides recommend you save all pages you cite to a disk – but that always seemed to me to be an unweildy and unworkable solution.

One service that I have recently discovered enables you to archive the page you viewed and cite in a way that any reader who subsequently follows up your citation will be taken to the page you actually viewed. It is called WebCite ( and is very simple to use. Filling in a couple of boxes is all you need to do as this screenshot explains:

I entered in a post from the independent study blog which I can now include in a reference section as:

McGoun. C, J. (2008) Asking Questions (accessed June 10, 2008). Archived at

Now I know that even if that particular post is changed or the blog where it appears now is deleted by its author in the future, the archived reference will still be valid. Very simple, very effective and … good manners!


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