How to Cite Bionet.Immunology

Ian A. York iayork at panix.com
Tue Sep 17 18:34:09 EST 1996


In article <323EBD44.681A at uic.edu>, Keld Sorensen  <KeldS at uic.edu> wrote:
>
>I have a real problem with the validity of quoting what often
>amounts to rumors or N=1 experiments.....
>
>Other than that - how about the entirely anonymous postings?
>How do we cite them???
>
>I stand by my previous post ("Rumors on the bionet.immunology have it
>that .......") or ("a person purporting to be Donald Forsdyke has on
>bionet.immunology stated that .....")

The purpose of a cite (or at least one purpose of a cite) is so that
readers can judge the validity of the statement.  Citing a Usenet
newsgroup allows the reader to do so.  It's the job of the reader to
assess that; a Usenet group is no different from any other cite in that
respect.  In other words, once you make the cite, then there's no more
need for editorializing: all the information is already provided, it's up
to the reader to do some thinking.  (I presume that you don't simply
accept everything you read as fact, even if someone cites Nature or Cell
as support.)  

As far as anonymous posts, I don't see what the problem is.  I've seen
plenty of references to anonymous sources: editorials in various medical
journals are often anonymous, and things like epidemiological records may
be anonymous.  You cite them (surprise!) as "Anonymous."  And when you see
them credited as such, you make a value judgement about them.  

As far as your line about "Someone purporting to be Donald Forsdyke ..." 
do you regularly make a point of visiting the authors of every reference
you read and grilling them on their identity?  How are you more confident
that Donald Forsdyke is really the author of the paper in Journal of
Molecular Evolution.  41(6):1022-37, 1995 than of the post to which you
replied? -you have an address and a name; the editors of of JME had an
address and a name;  that's about it. 

All that people are asking for here is a technical means of pointing to
their source.  By providing their source, all the information that's
necessary is included. 

Ian



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