In one part of my paper, I give a reference to a one-page article published in Science from (AAAS). There are some quantitative statements in this one-page article. However, I could not find any reference for these quantitative results presented in the article. There exists a DOI number of the article.

My question : Is it acceptable to cite this kind of article in a paper to be sent to a peer-review journal ?

  • 2
    Could it be more appropriate to "cite the source", meaning cite research articles that this article references or actually introduces? In that case, do so. Also, if those statements are found in other articles, although this one does not cite them, you should find them. Prove you did your research. If the statements are only in that article, I would still use it, but that might depend on your field and the relevance of the specific article, which is hard to judge.
    – skymningen
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 9:51
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    If that's the only source and you've exhausted other options, why not? It's not like your work depends heavily on that result, right?
    – jvriesem
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 15:20
  • Interestingly, there are almost any stuff on Google Scholar on these qualitative results.Hopefully, my results don't merely depend on this reference. Commented May 4, 2017 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


My question : Is it acceptable to cite this kind of article in a paper to be sent to a peer-review journal ?

I have cited a popular science article (specifically, an article in Scientific American) as well as a citation to a fan-maintained video game Wiki in one of the best medical journals in the world.

If it's the most appropriate source, it is acceptable - and essentially - that it be cited.


Journals may have differing opinions about the what exactly you may be allowed to reference. However, in most cases, I would expect that there would be no explicit prohibition on citing sources other than traditional academic references. Obviously, if possible, you should cite something peer reviewed, or (failing that) an academic preprint. However, sometimes such things are not available.

I have come across a number of useful citations to things that would not be considered normal academic sources. Sometimes people cite conference presentation slides containing of preliminary results, which have not been published, but which somebody managed to capture a picture of with a smart phone camera. Sometimes a result may be announced in a press release by a laboratory, well before the scientific details are made available to the research community. (A short news piece in a journal like Science would be of a similar character.) These are perfectly reasonable things to cite, if they are the only available sources of information.

Sometimes, I have seen even weirder citations. In one paper my advisor published (which was a topical review relating to some work that had gotten a fair amount of media exposure), he cited a number of reactions to the subject in non-scientific media. That included a comic strip, the Web site for a cult, and a statement by Lyndon LaRouche. So even pretty outlandish things can occasionally be cited in legitimate (if somewhat less serious than usual) academic publications.

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