Guidelines and Examples for Citing Electronic Resources
The publishing industry has continuously shifted and evolved in recent years, largely due to the emergence and integration of the internet and a diverse range of electronic resources. This has created new challenges for citation styles, and basic guidelines have now emerged in order to enable writers to document these new source types in their written work. The ASA style has based its guidelines for citing e-resources on The Chicago Manual of Style; find more information here.
Across all sociological disciplines, writers and researchers draw from a huge variety of online source types to support their own ideas; from websites and e-zines, to blogs, electronic mailing lists, machine-readable data files (MRDF), CD-ROM, DVD, and social media channels. There are a few points to bear in mind when citing e-resources:
- Include all of the basic elements of source information in the citation so that the reader can access the material with ease
- Sources that are unlikely to change (e.g. those in PDF or TIFF form, those accessed through JSTOR, exact replicas of the print version) should be cited in print-form
- Ensure that the source you are using will be accessible to your reader (e.g., look out for subscription based databases, access time limits and legal restrictions)
- Whenever possible include the author’s name, document title, date of publication (or retrieval date), and an address (e.g., URL or DOI)
How do I Use a URL to Cite a Source?
The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is crucial for locating an online document. However, websites can be regularly modified, updated, redesigned, or even removed, so it is crucial that you follow these steps when including a URL in your ASA citations.
- Be sure to carefully check the spelling of a URL so that the source is accurately identified
- Avoid citing a source with a URL that no longer exists
- Do not type the URL address; copy and paste it directly from your browser into your work
- Print and save the data obtained from a URL in case the URL is modified and the information is lost
- If the URL has expired and you still need to cite the source, cite it as an unpublished paper in an archived collection
Keep reading for a detailed list of examples that show you how best to cite electronic sources.
- If an e-book was consulted online, omit page numbers and include the URL and date of access
- If an e-book is available in more than one format, other formats may be listed as well - end the citation with: (Also available at: [insert URL])
Young, T. R. 1989. Crime and Social Justice: Theory and Policy for the 21st Century. Red Feather Institute. Retrieved June 22, 2010 (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/Red_FEATHER/crime/001contents.html).
Printed edition of a book accessed through an online library.
Daniels, John. 2010. Apathetic College Students in America. Middletown, IL: University of Middletown Press. Retrieved April 6, 2011 (http://site.ebrary.com/lib/collegestudies/docDetail.action?docID=1010101010).
Online periodicals available in print & online form.
Scott, Lionel D., Jr., and Laura E. House. 2005. “Relationship of Distress and Perceived Control to Coping with Perceived Racial Discrimination among Black Youth.” Journal of Black Psychology 31(3):254-72.
Journal articles (e-journals) with Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
- A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a publication or other unit of intellectual property. As a digital identifier it provides a means of looking up the current location of the source on the internet
- When a DOI is included, it should be cut and pasted directly from the article
Persell, Caroline Hodges, Kathryn M. Pfeiffer, and Ali Syed. 2008. “How Sociological Leaders Teach: Some Key Principles.” Teaching Sociology 36(2):108-24. doi:10.1177/0092055X0803600202.
- As a general rule, if the website contains data or evidence essential to a point being addressed in the manuscript, it should be formally cited with the URL and date of access
Document retrieved from an institution with a known location.
Text: (ASA 2006)
Citation: American Sociological Association. 2006. “Status Committees.” Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. Retrieved July 11, 2010 (http://www.asanet.org/about/committes.cfm).
Document retrieved from a corporate website (unknown location).
Text: (IBM 2009)
Citation: IBM. 2009. “2009 Annual Report.” Retrieved July 25, 2014 (http://www.ibm.com/annualreport/2009/2009_ibm_annual.pdf).
Social Media Sources.
- When referring to a particular social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) posting within the text, it should be accompanied by a footnote in the main body of text rather than included in the reference list
- The footnote must include the page’s title, date accessed, and the URL
Text: The American Sociological Association mentioned the meeting directly on its Facebook page.1
Footnote: 1. American Sociological Association’s Facebook page, accessed June 6, 2014, http://www.facebook.com/AmericanSociologicalAssociation/posts/10154176262000165.
Examples of how to cite a web log entry (also known as “blogs”), e-mail message, items in online databases, machine-readable data files and audiovisual materials (e.g., CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, podcast, PowerPoint presentation and sound recordings etc.) can be found in Section 5: Guidelines for Using Electronic Resources in the 5th edition of the ASA Style Guide.
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