"Program MARK: A gentle introduction" by Evan Cooch and Gary White
is a guide to using a particular piece of statistical software. It is available in print form as well as in a free, online version.
The foreword to the book contains the following paragraph:
We’re occasionally asked how to properly cite this book. Easy answer – please don’t. This book is not a ‘technical reference’, but a ‘software manual’. The various ‘technical’ bits in the book (i.e., suggestions on how to approach some sorts of analysis, guides to interpreting results...) are drawn from the primary literature, which should be cited in all cases.
Now, I don't have any problem with the last sentence - the authors are quite right to recommend citing the primary literature. But I don't understand why they recommend NOT citing their own work. If I have found it useful (I have) then the usual arguments for citation seem to apply:
- Citing the guide may be helpful in pointing others towards this useful resource
- The guide has performed an important function in my work, even if that function is "just" pointing me towards the primary literature, and that function should be acknowledged. It is in a small way dishonest if I imply that I researched the primary literature without any help.
- While any mistakes in my use of the software are of course my own, knowing the source of advice that I've used might help others to spot or trace those mistakes.
Against this is the fact that the authors have politely asked me NOT to cite the work. I have no wish to be disrespectful to the authors who have created a valuable resource. But is it reasonable for them to ask me to break from academic good practice?
Should I respect the authors' wishes and omit a citation?