Question: I'm writing a non-fiction book. I'm really struggling with website citations. What information is absolutely necessary for website citations? Author, publication date, publisher? I am under the impression that Wikipedia is not a credible source. My book's aim is to reach the general public, not the scientific community. The information I have been researching and using is meant to be amusing and/or funny. Thus, I am wondering if I can use Wikipedia for basic definitions and other info.
Thanks. I'm entirely new to this. And while I'm enjoying writing a book for the first time, completing citations has been a total pain in my butt! It's driving me nuts! Please, I'd love some help with this! Thank you!Answer:
If you want a simple guide to citations, you might try getting a copy of the MLA Handbook
. The book provides s a clean, simple format for citations that is spelled out clearly. Here's their website...
Regarding Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, it is a secondary source. You will note that at the bottom of each article on the site there is a list of the information sources used by the article writer.
If you want to have a modicum of credibility, you should at least check out these sources themselves rather than trust the wiki writers' summaries of this information. It would also be a good idea to check out sources not on wiki's list, just in case the article exhibits a selection bias.
The good news... Basic definitions often don't need citations if they are part of the general body of generally accepted knowledge within the field (like the definitions of other words in the English language). Citations are needed only if you are making claims about something - for instance, if you are claiming something is true or proven and you need to present evidence of that claim.
For instance, you can talk about gravity without having to cite Newton's Principia
. But if you want to claim that Newton got it wrong, then you need to cite the evidence against it.