9. Changes in Online Sources

A problem unique to the Internet is that web page sources may change over time. This particularly becomes a problem when your instructor is not able to find your source to confirm your research. Information on a web page may also be deleted or changed, which in turn affects the conclusions you drew from it in your paper or passages you have quoted. You have several options to protect your research in this unpredictable environment.

  1. Include the date you visited the Web page as part of your citation.
  2. If the web site no longer exists, also include that information in your citation. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style specifies that information that a site has been deleted be included in the text and that the citation include the designation: (site discontinued).
  3. Make a copy of pages of the original version of the web site from which you have quoted or used significant information.
  4. Locate the original version of the site you used. Several search engines can help you track down an older version of a Web site:

    • Google’s cached link, included with each listing, has a snapshot of the site from the date it was last crawled.
    • The Wayback Machine, http://web.archive.org/collections/web.html, is a more complete archive of older versions of web sites. However, you need to know the URL of the site you are looking for so it is still important to document your sources in the first place.

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Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson
contact: sthompsn@csusm.edu