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Subject: (RFI) Citing electronic resources
From: Mikael Gunnarsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:BIBLIST - Topics in Nordic research library user services <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 15 Aug 1998 10:43:06 +0200

text/plain (73 lines)

**This message is being cross-posted to other discussion lists. Please
excuse any duplication.**

The problems of citing and referring to electronic resources of
different kinds have been elucidated in many contexts. As I think
every normative prescription as to how it should be done reflects a
decision which is dependent of some scientific view, it is most
important to take into account decisions already made in Library
and Information Science and related disciplines. So in our efforts to
elaborate recommendations on this matter, we would be most grateful
if anyone could give us some guidance and possibly pointers to some
existing recommendations on the web.

The problems do not restrict themselves to concerns about how to
represent resources in the list of references. There are also quite a
few other points of discussion, as we see it.

1. Imagine an electronic journal with a particular file structure and
with a highly persistent URL for its home-page. The researcher wants
to cite a particular sentence in one article, which consists of five
sequential files. At this point we have at least three relevant
identifiers. It seems natural to choose the identifier for that
particular file which carries the sentence in question.  Though, as
files structures may change and the article has another vague but
persistent identifier depending on its time of publication in the
journal, say No. 2 1998, maybe it would be more useful to give the
identifier (URL) for the journalís home-page. Even more, the cited
sentence located in file 3 of 5, has a context for which the
identifier of the index or title-page would be useful. As not
everybody may be capable of navigating back to that point, be it of
unfamiliarity with the technology or of the absent navigational aid,
that identifier may be the best to give in the bibliographic
reference. (This problem - as you may know - have been dealt with in
the Dublin Core effort by introduction of the RELATION-element)

2. Another question of importance may be extracted from the fact that
the methods for preservation of digital material still are not able to
guarantee that objects on the web will be accessible in the near
future. Thus a text consisting of references to a large amount of
web-objects in a few years may lose some of its value and usability.
It would be wise then to give as much data about the object in the
list of reference as possible, and to find some way to guarantee the
persistency of the object, possibly by saving it in some way and let
it accompany the printed text. But this copying may conflict with
copyright legislation.

In this regard we have a few questions on the actual practice around
the world:

I. I know that for example the MLA Style of Citation and the ISO 690-2
standard gives recommendations on how to make references, but I can
not find any clear guidance on problem no. 1 mentioned above.
Especially when it comes to the question on how to cite highly dynamic
objects. So what is recommended practice?

II.  The problem no. 2 above is a difficult one, but in the context of
works like master theses and doctoral theses there must be some method
in practice on how to secure the possibility to check citations and
the like. So what is the practice here?

III. The efforts of ISO, MLA, APA and the like to produce standards
are important, but to what extent are their efforts taken into account
by different scientific disciplines?

Please respond to the list or to:

Mikael Gunnarsson
Swedish School of Library and Information Science
501 90 Boras
tel:    +46 33 16 41 38
fax:    +46 66 16 40 05
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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