Citation Stylings

June 25th, 2009

My dissertation occasionally presents me with some odd dilemmas resulting in strange turns of phrase. This is largely an artifact of working with an in-text citation style (APA), which blends a somewhat scientistic air with sometimes quite … let’s say, colorful names and language. No matter how many times I read this sentence, for instance, it looks strange to me, though there’s nothing objectively wrong with it:

Sexist, racist, and homophobic sentiments may be amplified by the somewhat anonymous and depersonalized format of internet venues – an “online disinhibition effect” (Suler, 2004) in psychological terms, though well known to geeks under such terms as “the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory” (Kruhulik & Holkins, 2004).

The phrase is indeed well known, and I offer an endnote to expound upon that a bit. But it still looks like a weird sentence. (And yes, the lowercase “I” in “internet” is intentional.)

My dilemma today is how to cite an article by Iroquois Pliskin. Citing people by handle/screen name is usually no big deal for me. Because I’m quoting heavily from comments on blogs and publicly viewable forums, I already have plenty of citations like “(CmdrTaco, 2007).” This gets trickier when citing someone using a screen name that takes the form of a pen name. If I’m to treat this like a screen name, I’d cite it as “(Iroquois Pliskin, 2009).” On the other hand, this has a first and last name, so should it be “(Pliskin, 2009)”? “Mark Twain” was just a pen name for Samuel Clemens, but I think you’d still cite him as “(Twain, 1876).” And I haven’t even addressed how I decided to cite the Penny Arcade strip noted in the quote above as “(Krahulik and Holkins, 2004)” rather than “(Gabe and Tycho, 2004)”; citing when you have a screen name and a real name associated with a work presents its own challenges as well.

I’m not going to let something so silly hold me up right now, so I’m just going with citing as a screen name for consistency with the other online sources I’m using in cases when no real name is given on the work itself. Perhaps I’ll revise after defending if need be.

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6 Responses to “Citation Stylings”

  1. Church Says:

    “I’m just going with citing as a screen name for consistency with the other online sources I’m using in cases when no real name is given on the work itself. ”

    Seems to be the way to go. You’d cite “Twain” and not “Clemens,” e.g.

  2. zandperl Says:

    I take it there’s no established standard? What do your advisor and other faculty think? Since it’s a style issue, is there anyone at the APA you could contact and actually ask about it?

  3. Jason Tocci Says:

    I haven’t run it by my committee, but none of them (that I’m aware of) have done a project quite like this. I haven’t found anything from APA that explicitly addresses this, either. It’s not that pressing right this instant, but I thought it might be interesting enough to share.

  4. Chris Collins Says:

    Hey Jason, back in my own dark ages working in academic publishing, I can tell you that we’d always go with what would make it easier for someone to verify that you haven’t made all this stuff up (Not that I’m suggesting you would).

    That said, I’d probably in the works cited page listed Krahulik and Holkins writing as Gabe and Tycho. Or conversely just cite them as Gabe and Tycho with a note that their real names are Krahulik and Holkins.

    I’d cite a pseudonym with a first and last name just like the twain article.

    It is interesting that you’re (hopefully) happily grabbling with the cutting edge of academic citations. And I’m glad you are grabbling with it.

  5. Jason Tocci Says:

    Ah, this is the thing I mentioned only in passing in the post, and said I wouldn’t even get into it. But you have drawn me out!

    Actually, I’m citing the creators of Penny Arcade as “Krahulik & Holkins” because those are the only names printed on the comic itself, or even the page where the comic appears. See vertically printed text on the right—“©2004 Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins”—hence the decision to print the names out of alphabetical order, as well. Admittedly, this does make things confusing when citing their “news posts” elsewhere, which are written under their pseudonyms. Considering that they have widely known real names printed on their other work (under which copyrights are attributed), I have simply used their real names whenever citing them.

    Mind you, I have whole other sets of rules for citing things from people who I just happen to meet at cons and then follow up with online, which is more geared toward protecting their anonymity. I think the creators of Penny Arcade (and a handful of other “internet famous” people) constitute special cases with regard to the use of pseudonyms, though.

  6. Chris Collins Says:

    I think it’s interesting that the individual comic is copyrighted to them, but the site itself is copyrighted to penny arcade, inc.

    Ultimately, I think your Penny Arcade example shows that you are 1. thinking about how to properly cite sources with regard to how people use the internet and 2. providing a level of verfication/proof to people who might be reading your thesis. I think this is the important thing: That you are trying to properly cite them and you’re being transparent about it.