Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Can you cite a blog?

posted by xscot mcknight

Matt Wiebe, one of our blogfriends, is wondering about something. Is it academically responsible to cite a blog? Are they reliable sources? You can make comments here, of course, but I’d like to know if “research methods” teachers (at any level) are working through this issue. Teachers, do you have any policies? Librarians? Want to share lines from your syllabus?



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Jennifer

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:25 am


Heres how you would cite this blog post in APA style
McKnight, Scot (2007, 1, 27). Can you cite a blog?. Retrieved January 29, 2007, from Jesus Creed Web site: http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=1966
I really like the Citation Machine site because it lets you fill out a form with the information and will give you the citation – especially useful for citing obscure things like recordings or emails or class notes. http://citationmachine.net



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Jennifer

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:26 am


Oh, and I forgot to say…Yes, of course blogs should be cited when they are used.



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rick

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:21 am


I think it should be considered similar to citing an op/ed in a newspaper.
Likewise, should Wikipedia be cited?



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Alan Knox

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:39 am


I’ve cited blogs in academic papers, but none that have been published. I know of a couple of published papers that have cited blogs. Check especially recent paper on the Emerging movement by John S. Hammett.
-Alan



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Len

posted January 29, 2007 at 8:39 am


It’d seem to me the validity of the blog citation would depend upon the authority of the blogger on the subject. Quoting Marko from http://ysmarko.com about youth ministry would be fine but quoting Tony Jones about Monster Trucks http://theoblogy.blogspot.com/2007/01/various-surrealities-at-monsterjam.html would be bad. :-)



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Kate Johnson

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:23 am


I haven’t had a student cite a blog yet, but I do tell my university students that when they are doing research, especially on the web, be wary of unreliable sources since anyone can publish on the internet. I would, however, accept a blog source IF it was reliable and relevant… sighting Scot would be fine, sighting an anon blogger of comment would not. I would probably not accept Wikipedia since it is anon.



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Kate Johnson

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:25 am


By the way, the reason Scot is acceptable or anyone else would be they are “known quantities” i.e published authors with expertise in the area. A blog or email from that person would be as if reading it in a book…



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:42 am


Thanks for posting this Scot!
Jennifer: Thanks for the citation machine link; I’m sure to use that for future papers.
Rick: Every prof I’ve talked to says that Wikipedia is not a citeable source, even if it can be useful in getting general familiarity with a topic. Interestingly, Wikipedia itself says that blogs are not a valid source for citing on Wikipedia proper.
Alan: Where would I find this paper by John S. Hammett? Where was it published? I’m very interested to see a published work that cites blogs.
Len: Agreed. Tony should stick to his strengths ;)
Kate: I take it that you are a professor of some kind? Are you essentially saying that reliability in citing blogs has to do with the academic qualifications of the blogger?



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Kate Johnson

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:50 am


Yes, I teach at Trinity International University, S FL, psychology Dept. And yes, it has to not only do with the academic qualifications, but also the known quantity part. If someone sighted a blogger that said he had an DDiv, say… and he had no published work, then I would say that was not a reliable source… no identifying work so to speak. But if it was an MDiv who had a book or two out there, I would accept it.. But this brings up an interesting point that I plan to discuss with other profs…



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RJS

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:59 am


Part of the issue here is priority of ideas – whether published or unpublished. So in the sciences you will sometimes see a citation such as: Scot McKnight, North Park University, Personal communication.
So if a fact comes from a blog it is probably wise to verify from a more concrete source, although I agree with Kate – a fact from a “known quantity” on a blog may be acceptable, while an anonymous source is not.
On the other hand if an idea comes from a blog the only proper citation is to the blog.



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:15 am


Kate: Thanks for the reply. So, the issue here then is that reliability is still tied to the world of print publishing, be it journals or books. I wonder what new ways of ascertaining and assigning reliability will come about as internet publishing becomes more the norm?
RJS: Thanks for the insight. I assume that you are involved in the sciences, so your perspective is a nice augment. True, I would always want to check “facts” that I found on a blog elsewhere.



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Brother Maynard

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:18 am


Seems to me you can (and should) cite anything, including a conversation or email exchange. The real question is how he prof (or other reader) will consider the relative authority of the source. Now there’s an assumption to challenge: in the old days it was somehow considered adequate to be in print… but a lot of flaky books have been published, and it’s getting even easier. otoh, you can find some far higher quality of work only published online.
In my view, “online” is publishing. When citing a blog to establish matters of fact or significant interpretation though, it might be helpful to include a notation on the blogger’s credentials or some reason they are being cited if they may not be well-known in the circles where the paper is presented… “Andrew Jones, who blogs as ‘TallSkinnyKiwi,’ is a widely recognized voice in the emerging church movement and has published articles in several popular periodicals.” But then I was always a fan of content footnotes back in my paper-writing days ;^)



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My $.02

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:02 am


Jennifer #1 is right according to MLA and APA. Even government sources are sited that way, with the date retrieved. And always be prepared to produce your hard copy of the information.



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Tom Allen

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:04 am


While moderating the marking of some Youth Work and Thelogical BA and MA course material blog material is perfectly acceptable – indeed are the only sources for some leading practiioners. Using the method which Jennifer suggests is perfectly acceptable to the two colleges which I work with. A more interesting dilemna emerges about the shelf-life of a blog link – it is not the “permanent record” which was previously cited. Care therefore needs to be taken before citing a reference to a blog from another source – ie secondary quotation – without checking that the source still exists. There is no difference in authenticity between a blog and a book – there as many awful inaccurate and ill-informed books around as there are blogs. Blogging is also a relatively new medium where credibility is passing to practioners rather than commentators – it will be interesting to see for example whether relatively quickly leaders of real emerging churches become more authorative than commentators and conference speakers such as Andrew at Tallskinnykiwi and blogging may well be the medium of that change. Then the real dilemna will emerge as to whether practioners can find the time to do the writing/blogging.



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Ochuk

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:05 am


You can cite one (who says you can’t) but I think blogs, like Wikipedia, is not respected in scholarship. They should only be cited to demonstrate a level of knowledge that is conversed about at the popular level. That can be a wide range of useful things, but basing real research on them, I think, is not a good idea.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 11:15 am


Tom,
By and large I agree. But there is nothing quite like Dale Allison’s 3-volume commentary on the blog world — so a commentary or reference work of substantial merit and definition is one thing.
But, what about public commentary? What is the different at the level of expertise between, say, a politically-active Christian (Michael Kruse) who blogs and Michelle Malkin or Paula Zahn? I’ll tell you that I’d trust Kruse before Zahn, even when I disagree with the former and agree with the latter.



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:08 pm


As Br. Maynard points out, blogs are publishing, the only difference is that we haven’t gotten to the point in blogs where we have good criteria with which to discriminate between the reliability of blogs the way we can easily discriminate in the print world between a peer-reviewed journal and a Harlequin romance (to use a ridiculous example).
Tom: You bring up an interesting point about the shelf life of a link, where a site may go down. However, the Internet Archive Project sees us through some of the difficulties with that, particularly if the document was creating using proper web standards.
Your point about practitioners applies perhaps to the EC world, but I don’t see it playing out in the larger blogosphere. Blogs are playing a large role in public commentary in the US political scene.
Ochuk: I agree that blogs aren’t respected in scholarship yet, but I think that they will be. My question is then, what can be done to bring us from here to there? Where can we start today?



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Rick Meigs

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm


Scott: Re:John S. Hammett.
I assume the commenter is referring to “An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement,” By John S. Hammett, Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe he published this in 2005 and you can get it in a pdf format here.



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Rick Meigs

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Scott: Re:John S. Hammett.
I assume the commenter is referring to “An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement,” By John S. Hammett, Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe he published this in 2005 and you can get it in a pdf format at http://ateam.blogware.com/AnEcclesiologicalAssessment.Hammett.pdf



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Jennifer

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:19 pm


My 02 (#13)
MLA formats citations a little differently.
Here is MLA
McKnight, Scot. “Can you site a blog?.” Jesus Creed. 29 1 2007. 29 Jan 2007 .
MLA doesn’t seem to care that it’s hard to tell the difference between date published and date retrieved, while APA spells it out. Also, APA puts the date before the title.
In comparison, the APA citation looks like :
McKnight, Scot (2007, 1, 27). Can you cite a blog?. Retrieved January 29, 2007, from Jesus Creed Web site: http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=1966
Okay…I have been writing waaaay too many papers recently :-) :-)



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Jennifer

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm


Oops
Here is what MLA actually looks like :-)
McKnight, Scot. “Can you site a blog?.” Jesus Creed. 29 1 2007. 29 Jan 2007 .



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Alan Knox

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:34 pm


John S. Hammett delivered this paper at ETS in 2005: “An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church“. It includes citations of blogs.
-Alan



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 12:35 pm


Jennnifer,
in #21 how does one know “Jesus Creed” is a blog?



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:09 pm


Rick, Alan, thanks for the links. Do any of you (or anyone else) know if this was published other than being read at ETS?
A little more info to expand the scope of this for any who are still participating: although the exploration of current expression in the EC and elsewhere is of much interest to me, the context this is coming up for me is a history course. So, for example, can anyone imagine citing a blog in a historical research essay? How to ascertain reliability in (and if) doing so?



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Alan Knox

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:18 pm


I believe the paper is published in Criswell Theological Review vol 3 issue 2. Dr. Hammett was recently published in JETS as well on emerging leadership. I would be surprised if he didn’t not cite blogs in that paper. Sorry, but I don’t have the volume/issue for that journal.
-Alan



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:19 pm


Matt,
In most instances, so it seems to me, the information needs confirmation elsewhere; which means “don’t cite the blog.” I would think a blog would be cited when the writer is credible (discerned from a variety of factors, not the least of which is the credentials) and when the information can’t be found elsewhere.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm


From a librarian friend:
Citing Electronic Information
Many people want to know how to cite information that they find on the Internet in school papers, theses, reports, etc. There is no definitive answer, but many people have made suggestions. Here are some places to go for recommended electronic information citation guides.
Jump to: On the Web | Books

On the Web
MLA Style: Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web by the Modern Language Association of America http://www.mla.org/publications/style/style_faq/style_faq4/ Electronic Reference Formats Recommended by the American Psychological Association by the APA http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html Online! Citation Styles by A. Harnack and E. Kleppinger http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/citex.html Citing Electronic Information in History Papers by Maurice Crouse http://history.memphis.edu/mcrouse/elcite.html Cómo citar recursos electrónicos by Assumpció Estivill and Cristóbal Urbano http://www.ub.es/biblio/citae-e.htm Citation of Legal and Non-legal Electronic Database Information by Candace Elliott Person http://www.michbar.org/publications/citation.cfm Yahoo Category: Internet Citation http://dir.yahoo.com/Social_Science/Linguistics_and_Human_Languages/Languages/
Specific_Languages/English/Grammar__Usage__and_Style/Citation/Internet_Citation/
Books
Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. (2001). Washington, DC : American Psychological Association
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 16th ed. (1996). Cambridge : Harvard Law Review Association
Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed. (1993). Chicago : University of Chicago Press (has a small section on citing electronic resources)
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 2nd ed. (1998). By Joseph Gibaldi. New York : Modern Language Association of America (includes updated guidelines on citing electronic works).
Patrias, Karen. National Library of Medicine Recommended Formats for Bibliographic Citation. Bethesda: National Library of Medicine, 1991.



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Jennifer

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm


Scot (23)
Shoot..I tried to cut and paste it twice, and for some reason the address got cut off at the end (was running to get to class :-) ) I think you can see what it looks like more in the APA style.



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm


Alan: Thanks for posting that here and on my blog.
Scot: I agree about outside confirmation most of the time too. Of course, this is generally good research technique no matter the source.
And thanks to your librarian friend; that’s an excellent resource list.



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Anonymous

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:04 pm


Blogging: A Reliable Academic Source? » mattwiebe.com

[…] EDIT: I emailed Scot McKnight about this as I posted it, and he decided that it was a good enough topic to dedicate a post at his site to. There’s some good discussion happening there. Published on January 24th, 2007 in Blogging and Tech. Tags: No Tags. […]



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Matt Dabbs

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:25 pm


It seems to me this depends on the discipline. In psychology all reputable publications are peer-reviewed. In order to have something published it normally goes through an extensive process of multiple reviews from people who are experts in a particular field. If the majority of those people give it a thumbs up then it is published. For example, the publisher sends out the article to a panel of experts with a rating system (depending on the journal) of their opinion of the quality of the piece and a yes or no about if it should be published.
I am not sure what you go through when it comes to theological publications. I am assuming you have to get a publisher to buy into the idea and then get some manuscripts to some people and get their opinions of it (which then become flowery excerpts on the dust cover).
Blogging doesn’t have that type of review or accountability. The only filter it has is the author. Regardless of the author, I have a hard time seeing blogs on the same level as other types of publications.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Matt,
Let me suggest your argument is circular:
Are blogs authoritative?
1. Every authoritative is peer-reviewed.
2. Blogs are not peer-reviewed.
3. Therefore, blogs are not authoritative.
Is everything authoritative peer-reviewed? Obviously not.
And, what if a peer-reviewed author posts the results of his peer-reviewed article? Is that summary, perhaps even slightly altered or extended, authoritative? At least some sociologists are now summarizing their studies.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 2:40 pm


Matt,
You also raise a big issue: the role the community that determines if something is authoritative plays in shaping what is perceived as authoritative. It is a rather commonplace among postmoderns that one’s tacit assumptions (agreement that only what is deemed authoritative actually is authoritative) plays a role in what perceives to be true. What if one wants to break out of those boundaries, as English teachers did (not all to good effects) some years back when they thought intelligence didn’t reside exclusively in the “canon” of writers that were to be read?
This really is what emergence is all about.



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 3:04 pm


Scot, now you’ve gone and revealed the elephant in the room. ;)
Many are saying that blogs (with comments systems) and communities of bloggers have the potential to provide a different kind of filtering mechanism that peer-reviewing has provided for us. Within these communities, authority is earned and ascribed. I have a couple of links in the comments of my blog post in this area.
Just to bake people’s noodle a bit: do you think that Scot’s blog would be considered as “authoritative” in the EC movement without people commenting here and elsewhere, and without the exchange of links back and forth? I don’t think so. It’s more than just the fact that Scot has credentials and published works.



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Matt Dabbs

posted January 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm


Scott,
I think you have a good line of reasoning there. I obviously don’t think that everything authoritative has to be peer-reviewed or else Moses sure would have had an even harder time in the wilderness! I do think that it helps to have peer review when it comes to what we do or do not cite. Something tends to have more credibility if you know it has passed through some filters (other than the author) and come out on the other side as a published work. If a teacher is going to accept a source as credible, it seems to me that not all blogs fit that bill. Where is the dividing line? That will be a hard rule to determine.
There are people like yourself who are well established and well respected who put out consistent good quality work. However, does the blogging of someone such as yourself live up to the quality of work/amount of study that goes into something that is going to be published as a hard copy? It is probably pretty close but I have no idea. I am sure most people who come here and read are operating under the assumption that what you write is coming from a pretty thorough process of reading, writing, and integrating information.
Like Matt Wiebe just wrote, the comment system does work as a filter/determinate of reliability to some extent.



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Michael Kruse

posted January 29, 2007 at 3:47 pm


It seems to me that a big piece of this (as with so much writing) comes down to who is your audience and what is your purpose in writing? Who your audience thinks is authoritative and how that audience approaches an issue seems to me to be a central concern. (Otherwise, why reference them?) As Richard Saul Wurman wrote, people only learn in relation to what they already know. So you have to learn something about what they know and who they respect as “knowing” things before you can effectively communicate.
(And as to #16, according to my New Deal Democrat mother, (who is a reliable authority on this issue) I wouldn’t trust anything that that Michael Kruse character writes, blog or otherwise.) :)



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RJS

posted January 29, 2007 at 6:04 pm


Matt (#31),
All reputable journals are peer-reviewed, but all sources of information are not peer-reviewed and one must cite sources accurately whether the source is peer-reviewed and authoritative, or not.
The citation is one of the things that helps the reader determine the reliability of the information cited.
On the other hand we all know that less than stellar work can get through the peer-review process (even in top journals), and publishers can make mistakes about books.



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Scot McKnight

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:27 pm


Another comment from a research librarian, and some more good thoughts:
Here are a few thoughts on your question:
1. A blog would qualify as a internet source. Many professors here and at other schools I have been to simply will ask their students to find a set number of internet sources. They will not distinguish what type of internet source. Under this lax framework, a blog would probably count.
2. How well does the professor understand the distinctions of electronic resources? We have difficulty educating some professors that sources found using electronic databases are not internet sources. And their terminology expressed to the students is not always clear. If a professor cannot determine the surface difference between a cited article from the New England Journal of Medicine found in our databases and an article from WebMD then we have serious problems in handling something as varied as blogs.
So the bottom line is that students should make very clear what the professor understands and expects from their electronic resource requirements. Other than these caveats, many blogs should be considered legitimate sources. But, they should be put through the same critical filter as all other web resources (who is publishing the information? when was it published? does the information match what has been found in other research?)



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Matt Wiebe

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:12 pm


Michael: Good insights on writers and audiences; things are certainly different with different combinations of those. And I think that your mother is maybe a bit harsh ;)
RJS: I think that citation in our blog posts is definitely one of the criteria for more reliability as a source that I’m looking for.
Scot: Thanks for posting the thoughts from that research librarian. Especially #2 makes it clear that one of the hurdles in blogging is educating our readership on what blogging is exactly—its strengths, weaknesses, operational procedures, etc.



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Matt Dabbs

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:44 am


I guess Turabian could use a new entry for formatting blogs and blog comments.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:26 pm


It seems that the standards of rigor for blogging (since there is no accountability whatever) are a bit different than academic writing. I mean, even if a professor who really knows what he is talking about is the one doing the blogging, he probably isn’t making academic citations to note the sources of the information that is worked into his blog, though he might mention the name of a book or writer or whatever in passing. That is to say, it seems as though blogs – like popular non-academic writing or letters to the editor – are simply playing by different rules (regardless of the authority that the blogger has on the subject) than those of academic discourse. This may, however mean that it is academic discourse (not blogging) that will become less influencial as a result. We’ll see.



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Anonymous

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:26 pm


Academic Blogging Redux » mattwiebe.com

[…] I posted on academic blogging recently, and the conversation enlarged at a post on Scot McKnight’s blog. This discussion then spilled into a discussion in my history class today, which had some good thoughts raised. Here’s some thoughts that I’d like to collect from those sources and from my own thoughts as to the current state of academic blogging. […]



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