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I'm currently writing an essay on the possible benefits of video games in education for my Extended Project Qualification, and for part of it I want to cite a blog post from Gamasutra written by a developer who makes educational games. My supervisor has previously said to me that I should try to stick to citing research papers or books, as these are generally reputable, and I agree with this. However I cannot find anything in a journal that fits the point I want to make, as I wanted to write about a developer perspective on these kinds of games. Would citing such a post have an impact on the reputability of what I am writing, and therefore impact my grade?

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    For those who don't know, the EPQ (extended project qualification) is an optional research project undertaken in the final year of compulsory education in the UK (equivalent to an A Level). – astronat Aug 27 '17 at 14:09
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This is fine. Citing someone's opinion is different from reusing someone's results as long as the former is clearly separated from the latter. Find a way to distinguish both kinds of citations in your essay. The former is the data on which you operate, after all.

If your advisor insists of such a separation, consider using footnotes, endnotes, or an extra list (in addition to the bibliography).

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    Huh? A citation is a citation. There is no reason to distinguish citation for results versus citation for opinion; that should be clear from your text. And there is no obligation to cite only refereed sources for results, or to cite only non-refereed sources for opinions; peer review is neither necessary nor sufficient for a source to be reputable. Just list the blog in your bibliography like you would any other source. – JeffE Aug 28 '17 at 2:26
  • @JeffE That's what you have to discuss with cqbit's supervisor, not with me, and not with cqubit. – Leon Meier Aug 28 '17 at 6:31
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When your supervisor said

try to stick to citing research papers or books

he or she most likely meant that you should use reputable and reliable sources of information when writing your thesis, and that most often (in an academic context), these will be research papers or books.

However, if you have another source of reliable information, by all means, use it (after verifying that it is reliable).

I'll give you an example of a scenario where it would be inappropriate to use a blog post as a source of information, and another example where it would be perfectly appropriate. Suppose a student is writing about some system X, and wants to write about the motivations behind the creation of X, but this is not addressed in the research paper about the technical details of X.

  • It would be a bad idea to use a blog post written by some person unaffiliated with system X, that lacks references to more reliable sources, as a source of information. You have no reason to believe that this post has accurate information about the motivations behind creating X.
  • It would be fine to use a blog post written by the creators of X, about why they created it. Obviously, they are a reliable source of information on this subject.

You wrote

I want to cite a blog post from Gamasutra written by a developer who makes educational games.

One thing you should be careful of, is to make sure to use these pieces of information for what they are - one person's perspective.

  • Be careful not to generalize (e.g. "most developers think...").
  • Also, be careful not to assume this perspective as fact. (e.g. if the post says "Educational games are more effective when Y", don't present this as a statement of fact in your thesis - make it clear that this is just one person's perspective, and explain that person's role for context).

If you're not sure whether you've used the source properly, you can always check with your supervisor for advice.

Finally, the pedant in me wants to note: the question is not whether to cite something, but whether to rely on it as a source of information. Obviously, if you use something as a source, you cite it!

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