North Texas Daily

New website creates Twitter citations

New website creates Twitter citations

New website creates Twitter citations
October 08
08:01 2013

Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer

A new website, which launched at the beginning of the semester, will help students translate Twitter posts into MLA and APA Style for academic papers.

To use, all students need to do is collect a tweet’s URL and plug it in. The site will automatically generate MLA and APA citations for the tweet, including name of the person who posted the tweet, the twitter handle and the time the tweet was posted. The citations are ready to be pasted directly onto a citation sheet.

While it has never been this easy, citing Twitter isn’t new. As far back as October 2009, the APA Style Blog has posted guides to citing individual tweets and Facebook posts. The formula hasn’t changed much since then. MLA style’s website has had rules about citing Twitter since March 2012.

Teachers and experts said this could be the wave of the future. English doctoral student and teaching fellow Jeanette Laredo has her students tweet three times every weekend about their secondary reading material and uses tweets to teach them how to slim down their writing. She said she’s never had a student use Twitter as a source.

“Since MLA released guidelines on how to cite a tweet, I have told my students it is an option,” she said. “Digital technology has changed how and where we communicate. As a result, there are many important figures on Twitter. Students now have access to these peoples’ words instantly instead of through print media like books and magazines.”

Laredo said there are more respected media, but Twitter’s quickness sets it apart. The time at which something was said can be important.

“The immediacy of Twitter provides relevance or rhetorical timing for a variety of topics,” she said. “Because the speed at which we transmit information is getting faster, it means the time something remains relevant is shorter than it was prior to the Internet.”

However, citing Twitter hasn’t caught on yet. Many students, like pre-computer science sophomore Jose Montes, didn’t think of Twitter as something to cite in formal academic papers and didn’t think it would make much of a difference.

“I don’t think it’ll be that big at all,” Montes said. “[Tweets] are usually just opinions. Even if it’s by a credible person, it’s just 140 characters.”

Anthropology freshman Gabriel Gallagher said Twitter would only serve a niche purpose for current events writers because there would be better information elsewhere.

“There’s certainly citable information on Twitter, particularly for people writing about current events,” he said. “But other than that, I wouldn’t use it. Due to the casual nature of Twitter, it’s usually going to be a lot shorter than even, say, a Facebook post.”

Reference coordinator Susan Whitner, who teaches one-hour workshops on APA style for graduate students, said social media is the way information could be shared in the future, but its current format isn’t reliable.

“In its current iteration, no. In the future, yes,” Whitner said about common Twitter citing. “Your paper will not have as much weight in the area that I work in. This just doesn’t come up, but I’m not saying that it won’t.”

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

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