Using the Web for Documentation?

dennis grace amazing at
Fri Oct 25 23:19:19 PDT 1996

Greetings, Cousins,

Lyonel here.  I'm not Diarmuit, but since I teach a computer assisted
rhetoric class, I can start the ball rolling on Mistress Gunnora's question:

>        Has the MLA Manual begun listing proper citation forms for Web
>cites?  Have any of the other style guides such as Chicago?  I'm curious as
>to the proper format!

I don't know what the Chicago Style Guide has done with this, but the latest
APA (4th edition) and MLA (also 4th edition) guides both include information
on citing websites and other electronic sources.  Though the editions were
produced in 1995, they both suck.  Fortunately, Janice R. Walker of the
Alliance for Computers and Writing has produced a style page that addresses
HTTPs, FTPs, Gopher sites, Telnet data, MUDDs, MOOs, Chats, newsgroups,
CD-Rom sources, yada yada blah blah and blah.  I can't find my source
document copy in this mess I ludicrously refer to as my "records," but John
Ruszkiewicz has done a fine job of translating the ACW style sheet into a
few simple pages in the latest edition of the _Scott, Foresman Handbook for
Writers (also, coincidentally, 4th edition).  Moreover, four UT graduate
students have produced an addendum to the _Scott Foresman_ titled _Teaching
On-Line, Internet Research, Conversation, and Composition_, of which I have
a copy available for perusal.

I've been following these postings on Web research, and I wanted to offer
the perspective of a minor academic who's had to deal with this up and
coming business of Internet research.  First, as someone already pointed
out, Internet sites tend to be a great starting point,  providing mostly
Reader's Digest type condensations.  True, as someone also noted, quite a
few sites seem to be dedicated to putting the entire body and history of
English Literature on the Internet, but beware of these sites.  Many English
Lit sites, even the academic ones, haven't been too careful about selecting
the best sources.

Moreover, Internet sites are notoriously sloppy in their citation practices,
often providing absolutely no source information, frequently posting
erroneous source information.  As if that weren't enough, Internet sites are
highly volatile.  The "great information site" of today may be removed from
the web tomorrow.  

Why, then, should anyone want to use these sites?  Quite simply:  it's easy.
A Reader's Digest condensed version at least offers some clues of where to
start and leads as to what to find.  In addition, a number of Universities
are actively pursuing improvement of net sites and net searches (to date, no
one has produced a fully functional, discriminating "academic" net search

Ultimately, most data available in traditional libraries will be available
on the Internet.  We're already heading in that direction.  Quite a few
periodicals and scholarly journals have online versions, and the Oxford
English Dictionary is almost ready (last time I checked) to provide online
(subscription only) service.

Until I can be of further assistance on this matter, I remain

Yours in Multimedia Service

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis G. Grace
Postmodern Medievalist
Division of Rhetoric and Composition
Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
amazing at

Baro, metetz en guatge                    |  Lords, pawn your castles,
Chastels e vilas e ciutatz                |  your towns and cities.
Enanz qu'usquecs no'us guerreiatz         |  Before you're beat to the draw,
                                                    draw your swords.

                   -- Bertran de Born (a really fun Viscount)

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