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I am writing a paper in Computer Science / Information Technology. At several points in the paper, I mention the existence of particular types of software products. For example:

Advanced web data extraction systems offer the possibility for the user to define and execute Web wrappers by means of interactive graphical users interfaces (GUI) (e.g. Denodo, Kapowtech, Lixto and Mozenda).

The examples I am referencing are commercial products. Some of them have some articles associated with them which I can cite. Should I add reference to these articles? If yes, how can I do that?

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Like any other external resources you mention in your paper, in my opinion, the sources for the examples should be listed as regular references. This can happen in various forms:

  • If there is a scientific paper that in some way presents the external resource, cite that paper.
  • If the resource is only presented on a website, cite that website like you would cite other web sources. This can take various forms, though you should be consistent within any one paper you write. The author, unless a single person, should probably be the name of the entity that published the resource. The title can either be the website title, or the name of the resource (e.g. software name).

This has various benefits:

  • All external works are collected in your references section.
  • If you refer to the same source several times (especially on several pages), you can use the usual mechanisms by placing cite references.
  • Readers will not get confused by different formats and places for finding external works you refer to.

In an afterthought, I would find it extremely hard to consistently distinguish "examples" from "normal references". By "normal reference", I imagine a paper that confirms a statement you make. Now, imagine a simple statement like

In past works, users have been provided with feature X.

for which you want to supply a paper that describes a commercial software that does provide feature X. Now, is this paper an "example" or a "normal reference" that serves to confirm your statement? Clearly, it can be seen as both ... which is why I generally advise against trying to distinguish between any such "categories" of cited works.

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I suggest to add footnotes as an offer for further reading, if the journal you are writing for allows them. If your target journal does not, this answer may not be applicable to you.


Citing articles is possible, but: Usually one cites only sources that are contributing to the own scientific work, sources that changed the authors mind on something, that the author argues about, that the author judge to be relevant. If you know a cite-able source that gives proof to your statement, than provide it with your usual citing style (APA, LNI, whatever), but if you just list examples, I suggest you to offer the sources (e.g. web addresses) as further reading in footnotes.

In any case web documents are tricky to cite, because they can change over time. This makes them not the best sources for scientific citation. You can lower the risk of changing web documents by using a web preservation service like WebCite. See footnote 1 below as an example.


Your example could look like this:

Advanced web data extraction systems offer the possibility for the user to define and execute Web wrappers by means of interactive graphical users interfaces (GUI) [Aut15] (e.g. Denodo1, Kapowtech2, Lixto3 and Mozenda4).


Footnotes (same page):
1 http://www.denodo.com/ checked on 2015-07-08, archived at http://www.webcitation.org/shortlink
2 http://www.kapowtech.com/
3 http://www.lixto.com/
4 https://www.mozenda.com

Bibliography (appendix):
[Aut15] Author Examply 2015 - "On Web data extraction systems" in Paper xyz 
  • 1
    This advice doesn't work if the format doesn't allow for footnotes (and many journals don't!). – aeismail Jul 7 '15 at 13:27
  • Uh.. okay, than this advice doesn't work. Most German journals for CS accept the usage of footnotes. – André Kleinschmidt Jul 7 '15 at 14:33
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    WTF?... MrMeritology... if you not agree with my answer, then write another on your own. Your edit absolutely changes my answer to something completely different. I NEVER would advise a person to put URLs to the textbody even if the journal would not allow footnotes. What you did destroyed my original intention of the answer and changed it to the inverse. Why can this be done without my review or permission? – André Kleinschmidt Jul 8 '15 at 7:35
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    Users with enough reputation can always edit other people's work. However, if you are dissatisfied with the changes, you can "roll them back," which is what I have done here. (You can also do so, by clicking on the "edited" link.) – aeismail Jul 8 '15 at 8:10
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    I clicked to the edit link, but than the last (in my eyes "destroyed") version of the answer. Following the link 'edited x ago .. username" .. I find no "rollback to this version"-function. Maybe I just didn't understand how this roleback-thing technically works. Thank you for the roleback aeismail. – André Kleinschmidt Jul 8 '15 at 8:39

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