Google is not your source!

Google is not your sourceI took this photo when I attended a public defence of a doctoral thesis awhile back. I don’t remember anymore what the opponent’s point was but today I got a question at the information point which reminded me of this photo.

The question I got had to do with writing references. We get a lot of questions about how to write references. Sometimes the questions are easy and other times they are difficult. Today the student had found something interesting in Emerald and the student wanted to use it and wanted to know how to write a reference to Emerald.

Using references may have several aims. They might be used to show how much you have read, to show that your argument holds water or to show the current discussions in the scientific field. What is mutual is that when you refer to some material in your text there should be a reference to it in the reference list. It doesn’t matter if you found it via Emerald, Ebsco or Google because the reader might have access to the article via a different database and that’s why it is not of interest to know who has delivered the document to you.

You can search in our databases for all kinds of material and they are always published somewhere. It is not the database, the database host[1] or search engine that is the source you need to refer to but it is the document you found. It is not Google, Emeral or Scopus you refer to. What I’m trying to say is that it is not interesting to know which channel you have used to get access to the document. There is an exception to this though. This is when it is part of your course work do show which databases you have search and which terms you have used. Remember, databases are they way to your source, not the source!

Many of the databases today have tools that help you to create references. There is often a link that is called something like Create a reference, How to cite, Cite this or Create bibliography or you have the possibility to download file that you can open in EndNote. Then it might be called something like Export Citations. By the way, did you know you can download EndNote on your computer if you are a student at University of Borås?

Text: Pieta Eklund


[1] Databases are hosted by different suppliers. One database can be made accessible by a number of hosts, one university has one host and another has someone else. This makes it uninsteresting to say where you found a document. It is not interesting to know if you have used Google or Bing to do your search.

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