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Opinions on the inclusion of internet references in a dissertation

  1. Nov 18, 2014 #1
    I am currently writing my final year dissertation and have referenced not only academic papers but some internet sources that I have quoted or taken diagrams from. In particular I have referenced Wiki two times. I am concerned as I feel the inclusion of internet links is somewhat frowned upon, especially from Wiki.
    On the other hand does it show an ability to gather information from a variety of sources?

    I would be interested to know how academics here view this issue.

    Thanks in advance for any opinions / information.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2014 #2
    It does give credit where it is due (or at least, you are not claiming it as original).

    The biggest problem is the impermanence of internet sources. If at all possible, find an additional reference to a print source, a book or a journal. These things last much better.

    Also, check with your adviser/school.
     
  4. Nov 18, 2014 #3
    How strong is your dissertation? The stronger it is the more "unusual" you can be in the citations. If possible give correct credit but unless you have great results I wouldn't include a wall of internet cites.
     
  5. Nov 18, 2014 #4
    Hmm I've dated the sites in the references so as to show when they were available and when i looked at them. But will certainly look arond for similar non-internet sources before i hand it in.

    its looking pretty good imo and of the 75 references only 5 of them are internet sites, so I'm thinking it should be ok.

    Any other opinions on this?

    Thanks for the replies!
     
  6. Nov 20, 2014 #5
    wikis are not primary sources, but they are often good summaries of the primary sources. I would refer to the primary sources mentioned in the wiki.
     
  7. Nov 20, 2014 #6

    Choppy

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    Ideally, for every fact that you include in your dissertation that warrants citation, you want to have a peer-reviewed journal (and a reputable one at that) to back it up. But in reality, a lot can depend on the specific nature of the reference. For example, in my work I will occasionally need statistics related to various cancers, and so I might cite reports that are published by the relevant cancer societies. Usually it won't be a website though. Sometimes I'll used the NIST website for specific data, but even then I end up citing the reports where their methods are published rather than the website itself. If I wanted to refute the assertion that no one online discusses the inclusion of internet references in a dissertation, I could cite this thread, for example. Another example might be to include the location of a source code or online archive.

    If you've cited Wikipedia, you'll likely lose a few marks if the there's a better reference that's easily (or perhaps not so easily) available.
     
  8. Nov 20, 2014 #7

    dextercioby

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    Wikipedia is a source of information, a freely available encyclopedia (as opposed e.g. to Britannica). I'd never use an article there as a bibliographical item of a thesis/dissertation/research article on physics/mathematics/chemistry, not because the referenced content is not safe (one can edit an article at free will), but because the content on wiki is a summary, not a comprehensive treatment of a subject. You should base you work on (peer-reviewed) 'literature', not on encyclopedias.
     
  9. Nov 21, 2014 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm with dextercioby. I would never use Wikipedia (or Britanica) in a dissertation. Ever. A dissertation should use primary sources. An encyclopedia is fine for middle school, but not for a dissertation.
     
  10. Nov 21, 2014 #9
    Thanks will see if i can source the information elsewhere, thanks for all the input!
     
  11. Nov 21, 2014 #10

    Astronuc

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    Good move. I'm with dextercioby and Vanadium 50.

    A few years ago, I reviewed a technical report on some experimental work by a well-known and respected institution. They used and referenced a value taken from an internet site. The value was incorrect for the particular calculation, and I was shocked that anyone doing important experimental work would use a value taken off the internet without verifying the data!
     
  12. Nov 22, 2014 #11

    ZapperZ

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    The advice and question that you appear to have missed is the advice to check with either your instructor or your academic advisor! He/she will be able to tell you if such type of sources are acceptable!

    We can tell you everything here till we're blue, and they all will be utterly useless if your advisor has his/her own set of rules and guidelines that you must follow!

    Zz.
     
  13. Nov 22, 2014 #12
    To be honest I wasnt happy about including the Wiki references anyway, no professionally released papers have references to Wiki, and it looked kind of messy, there was just one graph I really liked that I couldnt find elsewhere:

    Absorption_spectrum_of_liquid_water.png

    There aren't that many similar graphs online, I'm trying to source it from the links he's given. But I've managed to change the rest of the internet links.

    Thanks everyone for the advice!
     
  14. Nov 22, 2014 #13

    ZapperZ

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    It looks like an absorption curve one would get out of a UV-VIS measurement. Go to Google Scholar and do an extensive search for that material you are using and the technique. I'll be very surprised if you can't find something similar.

    Zz.
     
  15. Nov 22, 2014 #14
    yes its an EM absorption curve for water, I've been suprised how difficult it is to find a good similar graph for such a fundamental concept! But there really arent that many around.
     
  16. Nov 22, 2014 #15
    if you click on the picture in the wiki article and check the talk page, they mention that this picture was created based on data from several papers, and that a lot of the data and references can be found at the Oregon Laser Centre:
    http://omlc.org/spectra/water/abs/index.html
     
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