Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Citing Tweets in MLA

It's one of the signs of the times we live in that MLA has just come up with a standard for citing tweets (from Twitter) in academic papers. That's right--now you can cite information that's 140 characters or less. For those of you wondering, the correct form is:
Last Name, First Name (Twitterhandle). “Text of the tweet.” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.
Where the date and time there is the date and local time the researcher accessed the Tweet.

Of course, this brings with it some other questions--like how a person would follow the citation trail. Twitter is far from easy to search. Not that I'm assuming many people are going to need to follow that trail for a Tweet, but isn't that sort of the point of a citation?

Also, teaching students when it's proper to cite a Tweet might also be a tad tricky. For the vast majority of papers, I can't imagine situations where Tweets are going to be relevant information, but I can picture students' eyes lighting up when they start thinking one of their ten required sources might be all of one sentence long.

Still, nice to see MLA doing its best to stay current and relevant.

What are your thoughts?

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