Citation, Documentation of Sources
Q. An author wrote the following sentence: “Indeed, there has been extraordinary growth in the field, with the number of publications discussing epigenetics growing from approximately 100 in 1992 to well over 18,000 in the last year.” The citation is to the Google Scholar website. We were unsure what to do with this. Citing the website itself seemed odd, but he did get his information there. How would you handle this?
A. Since Google Scholar is not a definitive or authoritative source for statistics, the author should be asked to qualify the statement considerably in the text or in a note. For instance, he might write, “There has been extraordinary growth in the field: a search using the keyword epigenetics at Google Scholar turned up approximately 100 publications discussing epigenetics in 1992 as compared to well over 18,000 in the last year.”