The Effect of the Web on Undergraduate Citation Behavior: A 2000 Update

Philip M. Davis

Abstract

This paper provides a 2000 update to the 1996–1999 citation analysis of undergraduate term papers by Philip M. Davis and Suzanne A. Cohen.1 The total number of bibliographic citations continued to grow from a median of ten in 1996 to thirteen in 2000. However, this growth is entirely explained by the addition of traditionally nonscholarly materials (Web and newspaper citations). A significant improvement in the accuracy of Internet citations was found when term papers were submitted electronically. In 2000, the first year of electronic submissions, 65 percent of the citations pointed directly to the cited document, up from 55 percent in 1999. Internet citations aged six months in both 1999 and 2000 bibliographies were still irretrievable anywhere on the Internet 16 percent of the time. If more scholarly citations in term papers are to be seen, professors must provide clear expectations in their class assignments. Students should be required to submit an electronic copy of their paper so that Internet citations can be scrutinized for accuracy and plagiarism.

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