Citation in articles about living peoplePrefixesWhat does a citation mean?

Don't just throw in a citation because you think you remember that your fact happened in a particular story. A citation means that you know — because you've actually checked — that the fact appears in that story.

It's easy to think of citation as a chore to "get through" as quickly as possible. But citation is important. It says to our readers, "If you go back to the story cited, you will find that the work substantively includes the statement just prior to the citation.

For instance, let's look at the following statement:

Dr [[Henderson (Spearhead from Space)|Henderson]] once puzzled over [[the Doctor]]'s [[TARDIS key]]. ([[TV]]: ''[[Spearhead from Space (TV story)|]]'')

By putting ([[TV]]: ''[[Spearhead from Space (TV story)|]]'') at the end of that sentence, what we're saying is that, within the body of the serial known as Spearhead from Space, you will find a scene where a guy named "Dr Henderson" puzzles over a TARDIS key. Since that actually happens in Spearhead, this sentence is allowed to remain in our database.

The problem is that sometimes we kind of remember scenes being in one serial, but in fact they're in another. Or sometimes we use fan sites comprised of badly-researched statements incorrectly ascribed to a particular story. Worse, some fan sites give a citation for a particular story, but fail to make obvious that this assertion is based on speculation involving another story. (This, incidentally, is why we don't think fan sites are valid sources.)

It's absolutely vital that you check every statement you make against the story you're citing. Some good questions to ask yourself include:

  • Am I going off my own research into the story?
  • If asked — and given a few minutes, cause me memory's goin' — could I definitely point to a page, episode or time code when the event I'm citing happened within the story?
  • Could I insert a direct quotation from the story into my sentence?

If the answer to any of these questions is "no", you're probably not on terribly solid ground.

Remember: the goal of our project is to write an original reference work. If you're copying someone else's work, rather than going back to the original narrative, you're not really creating anything new. You're just participating in a game of Chinese whispers.

If information is discovered which includes false citations, it is subject to immediate deletion.

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