Authors and research students often get anxious when it comes to citing sources in academic writing. For most, this is a task done at the far end of the research writing process, where they face the challenge of including proper citations collected over a long period. While many are disciplined when it comes to the tedious task of citation management, others struggle to find and accurately cite every source used. This is either because they fail to collate and note down the sources referred to, or, they are unsure of the citation styles to be used.
Now, with social media emerging as a popular channel where research is being shared, researchers and authors must be aware of how to cite all sources that are used appropriately. This article explains how to cite social media sources accurately in academic writing and illustrates how these can be cited in different styles and formats.
Social media referencing in academic writing
The evolution of digital technology and the emergence of social media platforms has redefined how sources are used and cited in scholarly writing. The reason is simple: social media and online platforms are now accepted channels for sourcing valid information and are acknowledged across all known citation styles around the world. While you must be very careful while referencing articles or research papers from unknown or predatory journals, with social media referencing, readers can always go back and verify the information that is provided.
Citing sources in academic writing from social media generally follows the same rules and guidelines as with other sources that are cited. However, due to the ever-evolving form and nature of online channels and social media platforms and the content available on them, specific principles and rules need to be kept in mind and followed by research students and authors to ensure the credibility of general information.
What are the different ways to cite social media sources?
Providing a reference to social media sources can be done in the following manner.
- While using a uniform resource locator (URL) – you can choose to give a reference to the social media website URL while referring to either Facebook or X as opposed to referencing specific posts on either online platform (the URLs can be put in parenthesis).
- When using personal communication – in case the content of the social media has been marked as restricted or private, these references can be styled in the manner of personal communication. For example, “Andrew Song (personal communication, January 2023) indicated that the government needs to focus on specific policies to target the rising inflation.”
- Adopting a reference list entry – if research students and authors are using a quote or paraphrasing a source from social media, they can be stated as a reference list entry with a parallel in-text citation.
How to cite social media sources in various formatting styles?
In this section, we will look at how social media sources need to be cited in the different Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) style formats, along with some examples.
Posts on X: Last name, First name (X username). “Place the entire post here.” Date and time of post. Followed by the post.
Posts on Facebook: Last name, First name. “Title of the Post.” Date of post. [Date accessed.<link to post here>]
Video links on YouTube: Last name, First name (or YouTube username). “Title of the Video.” Online video. YouTube, date link posted. Date accessed.
Google+ post: Last name, First name. “Title of the Post.” Google+. Date posted. [Date accessed<post link here>]
Posts on X: Last name, First initial. [X username]. (Year, Month Day). Write the entire post here [Post]. Retrieved from <post the link here>
Posts on Facebook: Last name, First initial. [Facebook username]. (Year, Month Day). Write the first 40 words of the post here [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from <post the link here>
Videos on YouTube: Last name, First initial. [YouTube username]. (Year, Month Day). Write the title of the video here [Video file]. Retrieved from<post the link here>
Google+ post: Last name, First initial. [YouTube username]. (Year, Month Day). Write the first 40 words of the post here [Google+ post]. Retrieved from <post the link here>
Similarly, researchers and authors can use permalinks, timestamps, and archive tools to depict the social media content and include the link in their citations. To conclude, it is also essential to check the citation style guides periodically for any changes in formats or adaptation styles for the various kinds of social media platforms.
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