Sometimes respected members of a research community may say something interesting and pertinent in a talk, but the nugget of insight might never make it into a peer-reviewed publication. Nevertheless if someone "important" said it, say someone with seminal contributions in the field, then their spoken insight might still be useful to consider and comment on in a thesis.

Is this accepted practice, especially in the field of computer science? During the Covid pandemic many interesting talks, masterclasses, seminars, workshops etc were given and are recorded on youtube. So is it ok to reference these? What form of referencing would be most appropriate? I'm thinking it can be thought of as just a web page, but would you want to give the date and venue more formally, or just leave that to the main text of the thesis?


1 Answer 1


Yes, it is fine to make such a citation and you may need to do so if you rely on what they have said. Yes, give the date and the venue.

The same would be true of an "over coffee" discussion with a person who says something important to your work.

But, it is also possible, perhaps preferable, to communicate with them so as to (a) verify your understanding and (b) get their permission to use what they say. In such a case, a citation tagged as "private communication" might be possible also, giving dates and such.

In math, and maybe some other fields, such conversations are worthy of co-authorship in some cases. This would be the case if they give the crux of a seemingly intractable problem you face.

But, in general, you need to avoid charges of plagiarism no matter where you hear/read of the ideas of others.

And, it is helpful to verify that your understanding is the same as theirs and that they will back up what you say if asked.

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