I doubt about the following situation. There is a kind of lecture notes, which contains really valuable examples on which I want make a reference from my paper (I cite some of them and reuse some of them). But this work wasn't officially published, and it is not listed in the list of the works in the CV of the author. The only one place where this document appears is this link:


So what the proper way to deal with this situation? Give a link like on web-resource as MISC or UNPUBLISHED or do not make reference at all?

At the moment citation of this work looks like:

M. Kanazawa, Context-free tree grammars, SemanticScholar, URL https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/95a3/cb63b80c3416879d534f41eedcd174b40159.pdf, 2012.

which doesn't look very nice.

HINT: I'm not asking for a specific TeX or BibTex advice! Below just a convenient formal view of the reference which I'm going to put.

@MISC {kanazawamakoto2012,
    author   = "Kanazawa, Makoto",
    title    = "Context-free tree grammars",
    HOWPUBLISHED= {SemanticScholar},
    month    = "feb",
    year     = "2012",
    URL = "https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/95a3/cb63b80c3416879d534f41eedcd174b40159.pdf"
  • 1
    Might be worth double-checking with the author, to see if they have been published elsewhere under a different name, or if he could upload them to arxiv, so that there is a more clearly established record.
    – AJK
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 20:23
  • @AJK this is a good point, I thought about it
    – user70829
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


In APA (6th) citation style, it would look like this:

Kanazawa, M. (2012). Context-free tree grammars. Lecture, Place/University. Retrieved 4 May 2017, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/95a3/cb63b80c3416879d534f41eedcd174b40159.pdf

The Place/University should be corrected. Could be SemanticScholar.

Nevertheless, I'd check (before citing this lecture note) whether the information you want to cite is included in one of the given references.

Note: Since the desired citation style is not clear, I used APA as default. I can change the citation style, if the desired one is added to the question.

  • Okay, thank you for your answer. That's fine to use APA
    – user70829
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 21:06

One comment besides the formal issues:

While formally ok, citing documents using non-persistent links is in my opinion sort of "last resort". First one should check all other possibilities. The reason is quite simple: references should not only document what you have used, but the reader should also be able access them. This is not guaranteed with non-persistent links.

Especially in case of lectures all material is typically published by the lecturer in various other papers or the lecturer has taken the material from other publications. In these cases one should better cite the primary sources. That might be a lot of work, but it's the way to go. At the end, in the text you want to cite the references fill 1 out of 7 pages total!

In any case, if you are going to cite officially unpublished documents it is always a good idea to contact the author asking how he/she would prefer to be cited.

  • Lecture notes are, on the whole, not an academically sound source of information (unless you are talking about opinions). By all means use lecture notes to understand an area, but if you wish to cite find the references where the lectuerer got their information from. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 9:05

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