I am wondering how to reference a journal (not a paper published in that journal, nor even an edition of that journal). Ought I to give a formal citation or is it enough to name that journal in the text?

The specific example which caused my confusion is the Archive of Formal Proofs (AFP) which is a repository of proofs in Isabelle along with papers describing them. It is not exactly a journal itself, I suppose, but I think it is similar enough that I have generalised this question to ask about 'journals' (it describes itself as 'organized in the way of a scientific journal').

Another option I suppose would be to cite a paper written by the developers of the AFP about the technology used in the AFP, or the organisation of the AFP.

  • 1
    How much harder is it to give a "citation" than a "mention"?
    – Buffy
    Aug 8, 2020 at 18:13
  • It goes in the bibliography if it's a citation. But I guess my question is not so much 'do I need to bother?' as 'what is the standard/correct way to do this?'.
    – IIM
    Aug 8, 2020 at 18:29
  • 3
    @IIM, perhaps you should revise your question to literally ask "how to do this", rather than "should/must one do this"... Aug 8, 2020 at 20:44
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    I think you need to present a much more clear case of what exactly it is you are stating that you are wondering whether you need to cite or not. I can certainly think of (rare) cases where no citation is warranted, and I'm guessing yours is not one of those, but it's not really clear what you intend to say.
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 9, 2020 at 1:50
  • @Bryan_Krause I did give a specific example but do you mean that I should not generalise beyond this example? I am interested in the general case of 'journals' as a class also, but perhaps that class is not well-defined, or that question should be asked separately.
    – IIM
    Aug 9, 2020 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


It is probably best that it goes in the bibliography, which should represent a full accounting of the resources you draw on. It is an obvious place to put the URL of the web site.

In general, it is better to be a bit formal in such things than informal, whether you literally need to cite it or not.

  • 1
    Yes, a certain riff is "be honest"... Aug 8, 2020 at 20:57

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