Take the 2-minute tour ×
Academia Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for academics and those enrolled in higher education. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I do understand that citations should be as precise as possible (including e.g. edition of a book or a page number), so that ideally, the reader can find the information exactly as I found it when writing.

I also understand that the problem with citing webpages is that they can change. But how does including the date when I accessed the page help anything? The reader still won't be able to read the same version I did (unless the page includes history, which is very rare). And comparing the accessed date with the current date isn't very helpful either: some webpages change multiple times per day, some aren't modified for years.

Or is the accessed date useful for some other purpose?

share|improve this question
    
The reader still won't be able to read the same version I didarchive.org/web/web.php –  JeffE Jan 4 '13 at 17:41
2  
@JeffE That works only on old pages (several months old). And not all pages are archived there. –  svick Jan 4 '13 at 18:04

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I am not aware of any published accounts of how style rules are developed. If you really want to know why a particular rule was developed, you need to asked them directly. That said, there are a number of different styles for dealing with electronic materials and these styles are changing:

  • MLA: You always need the date of access for electronic resources.
  • APA: You rarely use the date of retrieval, although in previous versions (APA 5) you always did
  • CMS: You never need the date of access/retrieval. I am not sure if you ever did in earlier versions.
share|improve this answer

A URL does not refer to content, it is only an address. Since you are making a claim about what was written at that address, you must associate a date with it, or it is meaningless.

If you do such a thing, you should also save the content, in case it is not recoverable and you want to refer to it again or support it further.

share|improve this answer
    
So you're saying it's important to uniquely identify what I was reading and it doesn't matter whether anyone else will be able to read it too? –  svick Jan 4 '13 at 18:35
2  
Not that access doesn't matter, just that uniqueness does. –  L. Amber Wilcox-O'Hearn Jan 4 '13 at 18:39

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.