We are two students in computer science doing our term project for B.Sc. in computer science.

Now I wonder if it is alright or advisable to make inline hyperlinks in the report e.g.

We look at the specification, it should report the memory mapped registers (which are input/output and can affect the state of the UART).

Or should there be a footnote instead? Or both? If somebody prints the report on physical paper then obviously an inline http link won't work.


I would say that at least a footnote, preferably a reference. The rules how it must be vary between universities, but the rules are old, and generally there may be a rule that some physical copies must exist and such, so I would play safe and do it always as if it would be printed.

  • 2
    I agree with this. A thesis is not a blog where every other word links to some reference. References should be print-compatible. A footnote might be okay in specific cases, but if a regular reference is applicable it is the better option. – Ian Mar 8 '17 at 8:36
  • There's also the possibility of link rot and related issues: a lack of context for what you are referencing could make it impossible to find the referenced material again if its location changes. The specification you (@Dj-Dac) cite has a title and unique identifier and everything, so use them! – Harry Mar 8 '17 at 18:23

No. Your thesis is its own piece of academic work, and one should be able to read it stand-alone. This means that you should take the relevant information, and present it to the reader, not just refer to the specifications, and give a citation. When you need to refer to any other work, be it articles, textbooks, technical specifications or http-pages, you should follow a standard citation scheme applicable for your field. Your supervisor can help you with the relevant details regarding its setup. Note also that the example you give is actually a piece of published literature, that just happens to be available online. Also: When including http pages as references, one usually notes the date when it was accessed. This is, however, not needed in this case, as you are citing a static publication with ISBN number and everything.

In the example you give, you should write something like (modulo field dependent citation standards - also I am not a computer scientist :)):

From the UART Core specification (ref. [1] p. 68-69) we know that the memory mapped registers...

[1] ALTERA Corp (2011) Embedded Peripherals IP User Guide , Altera, e-print: https://www.altera.com/content/dam/altera-www/global/en_US/pdfs/literature/ug/ug_embedded_ip.pdf

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