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I am analysing data from a commercial instrument. I need to set a threshold that has to do with the precision of the instrument, so I looked up the value from the manufacturer's online specifications. How do I cite it?

The university does not have any official policy, and other papers in the field either don't mention it explicitly, or give the value without citation, but I believe this is actually a quite relevant number, and thus should be specified and quoted.

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Basically, you can cite this user's manual just as you would any book-like publication. The only difference is that you don't cite the name of an author:

User's Manual for Foo Instrument, Model Bar. Random City: XYZ Corporation (Year).

or whatever is the appropriate reference style for your work.

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You can regard the corporation as the author - you might need to in order to make your software happy. – Chris H May 6 '14 at 15:29

Adding to the existing answer, in some cases citing documents that are not accessible to the research community is discouraged (e.g. a manual that is delivered with the equipment). In this case you could also say: 'We used the Foo Instrument (Manufacturer, City, Country) and set the threshold to 0.86 according to the manufacturer's manual'.

If the manual is accessible online, which seems to be the case here, you should cite the url with the date and time you accessed it.

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In this case, the specifications are public, I got it from the web page, so it is a good idea. I don't have access to the instrument, I believe it is sitting overseas. – Davidmh May 7 '14 at 9:14

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