Hat Tips (↬) and Vias (ᔥ): The Subtler Side of Citation on the Web

March 26, 2012

Curator’s Code On The Media

The Curator’s Code suggests symbols to help give credit for things on the web.

  • Vias () go to the link where you actually found the information you’re using,
  • Hat tips () credit the sites that pointed you in the right direction.

For example, I found out about the Curator’s Code on the On The Media program, so I should give them a hat tip like this:

I got the actual symbols off the Curator’s Code website so I could say the symbols come via them:

My standard form will be to stick these reference types at the bottom of each post or citation when they’re applicable. Like so:

Curator’s Code On The Media

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Hat Tips (↬) and Vias (ᔥ): The Subtler Side of Citation on the Web, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

How to Cite a Tweet

March 5, 2012

  • Last Name, First Name. (User Name). “Entire text of tweet (don’t change the CapitalizatioN)”, Date, Time. Tweet.

It’s essential to give credit where it’s due, especially in academic papers, but it’s good practice anywhere, anytime, and with anything. Thus the MLA has come up with a standard format for citing Tweets.

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

  • Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

— Modern Language Association (MLA), 2012: How do I cite a tweet?

(via Madrigal, 2012: How Do You Cite a Tweet in an Academic Paper?)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. How to Cite a Tweet, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

How to do Research on the Internet: A Lesson

February 3, 2012

This morning I did a little presentation with the middle school on how to do research on the internet, and we actually had a very good discussion. I focused on two key things: assessing credibility and writing citations (giving credit).


[Henry] Hudson’s main goal as an explorer was to find a northern passage to the Orient. … He started his journey in May of 1607 and returned in September of the same year when his route was blocked by the Great Barrier Reef.

— All About Explorers (accessed Feb. 2012): Henry Hudson

I started by having the students to look up some explorers. If you prefix an explorer’s name with “all about explorers” (e.g. “all about explorers Christopher Columbus) the first link on google leads to the right website.

They were supposed to read the page and recorded three facts that they found interesting, but, in doing so, it pretty quickly becomes apparent that the information might not be very reliable; Columbus did not, after all, have to rely on infomercials to build support for his expedition.

The All About Explorers website was created by a group of teachers to be a tool for teaching about how to do research on the internet.

Having them see the site come up on google is, I think, better than sending them directly to the url. Google is usually their first recourse for researching anything, so it’s nice to see that google does not give information about credibility.

The discussion that ensued ranged pretty widely, but a key question that kept recurring was: how do you judge the credibility of a website. We talked a little bit about the possible biases of commercial .com and .net websites, and about the fact that .org’s may well also have their own biases, since it does not require any credentials to set one up (see montessorimuddle.org for example). On the other hand, while .gov and .edu domains (as well as most U.S. state and other country websites) are restricted to governments and colleges, that improves their credibility, but, in itself, is no guarantee of accuracy or being unbiased.

So much of assessing websites’ credibility comes from experience, which students just don’t have much of yet, so I recommended that checking with teachers and adults might be a good bet. Confirming data from multiple sources also helps, but you have to be careful, since so many websites now use Wikipedia as a source (or even reprint things directly from Wikipedia) that any errors in a Wikipedia page can spread far and wide pretty fast.

We did not get into how to use Wikipedia well (go for the sources at the bottom of the page), but we’ll get to that later.


For the second part of the lesson, I had them look up the same explorers they’d searched on the All About Explorers website. They had free range to search anywhere they wanted, but not only did they have to now collect facts but were to also find a good picture.

I’d wanted the pictures so we could talk about copyright and getting permissions to use media, but we did not get that far.

While they were satisfyingly more skeptical about where they got their information from, they were quite happy to give me the facts they’d found without attribution.

So I took the chance to talk about citing sources: to give credit where it is due; to avoid even the appearance of plagiarism; to give your reader an idea of how credible your sources are (and by extension how credible you are); and to let you readers know how up-to-date your information is.

An example of a citation for a website.


For the next week or so the middle and high school are on an interim. This is our writing interim, so they’ll be working on research projects (including how to do research) and creating publications (I’m in charge of the science journal).

Since more and more research is going online, hopefully this was a good primer to get students started.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. How to do Research on the Internet: A Lesson, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

How to Write Lab Reports

August 31, 2011

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants
— Isaac Newton (1676) via Wikiquotes.

Science advances when scientists share their results. If someone tests an hypothesis and finds that it’s wrong, if they share their results, others won’t have to waste time by repeating the same experiments. If someone makes a breakthrough and publishes what they found, then scientists all around the world can use that information to develop new experiments and new applications of that newly discovered principle. Sharing is essential, so it’s important for students to learn how to share well.

Scientists usually communicate their results by giving presentations to other scientists at conferences and publishing articles in scientific journals. Often these presentations are full of the specialized language different types of scientists use with each other, so sometimes science journalists will translate that into regular English news articles that everyone can read and understand. The New York Times and the BBC have good science sections, but what they present comes first from scientists’ formal presentations and articles.

As a result, good presentations and good lab reports are a great way to start learning how to communicate like a scientist.

Lab Reports

A good way to figure out what should go into a lab report is to look at a published article. We have a bunch of copies of Science, which has research articles toward the middle and the back. Articles in Science tend to be brief and fairly dense because it’s one of the premiere journals, so the outlines are not as explicit as you’d find in other places; an Open Access Journal might provide better examples, especially if you’re looking them up online.

Based on our observations, we decided on the following parts for a good lab report:

  • Title: Be short, but unique to give a good idea of what your project is about. Since my classes seldom all do the same experiment, this is very useful. Answer the questions: What did you do? Why did you do it? and What did you find?
  • Authors: Who gets the credit for the work. Usually authors are listed by who did the most work first, but since everyone’s expected to work equally on their group projects you can choose some random or arbitrary order.
  • Abstract: A brief summary of the work, include: what is the problem you’re trying to solve; what you did to solve the problem; and what results you came up with. The abstract should contain all the spoilers.
  • Introduction: Go into some more detail about what the problem is you’re working on, and why it’s important. State your hypothesis and how you’re going to test it. Overview previous work your project is based on.
  • Procedure/Methods: Describe, in detail, what you did, what apparatus you used. Both words and diagrams are useful here.
  • Results: Tell us what you found. Graphs, charts and tables will be very useful here.
  • Figure 1. An example of a diagram. In this case labels have been placed on a photograph of the apparatus. Notice also the caption, which you are reading at this very moment, that goes with the figure.

  • Note on Figures: You should have figures, charts, diagrams and tables in your Procedure and Results sections, but you can have them anywhere they’re appropriate. Each figure needs to have a caption explaining the figure. A useful approach to figures and captions is to try to write them so that someone could understand the entire article by only looking at the figures and reading their captions. One of my students says that popular magazines, like People, are written that way (or at least that’s how they’re read).
  • Analysis and Discussion: To paraphrase a student, “Explain why you think you got those results.” Even if the results are unexpected, or especially if they’re unexpected, you need to explain them. This is also your chance to explain why all of your critics are wrong and you were right all along. If you do that though, it should be written in scientific, passive-aggressive language.
  • Conclusions: Summarize. In the abstract you’re telling them what you’re going to tell them. In the Introduction, Procedure, Results and Discussion sections you’re telling them. In the Conclusion, you’re telling them what you told them. Hopefully by that time they’ll have had enough chances to figure out what you were trying to tell them.
  • Figure 2. An example of a citation for a website.

  • References: Be sure to include a list of the references you used to do your work. This is how you give credit to the people who’s work you are building on. The Yale Library has an excellent page on citing sources. There are a different citation styles you can use but remember the purpose: to give credit where it’s due, and to allow others to be able to find those references easily. All citations should have the author, the date published (or when you accessed it if it is a website), the title, and a way to track down the work.

Note that scientific magazines, like Science and Nature, are very different from a popular magazine like People, for one thing, as was pointed out to me today, the pages don’t smell like perfume (instead they smell like science).


This paper, on how to bend a soccer ball, is a good example of a student research paper.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. How to Write Lab Reports, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Citing websites

February 26, 2010

Yale University's writing center's site on citing websites.

My students are very good at putting the list references on their presentations, however, websites usually turn up as simply a link to the site. I’m now working on rectifying this. Because there are a lot of different types of online resources Yale Library has a few different ways to cite them. What I like the most, however, is that they give very clear examples of how to use them in the MLA, APA and Chicago styles. My preference is for the APA but to make sure and include the URL (like the citation at the bottom of this post).

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Citing websites, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Citing a blog

February 13, 2010

Because my students use a lot of online sources I always emphasize the importance of watching out for copyright infringement and making sure they cite their references. This is easy enough to say but for a lot of internet content there is a lot of conflicting information about how to write citations.

Blogs in particular are difficult to cite, so I thought it would be useful to add the citation to the bottom of each of my blog posts as an example (it also allowed me to figure out how to write a WordPress Plugin). After looking at a number of referencing styles I finally settled on the Yale University Writing Center’s APA format.

You should be able to see what it looks like below. I’ve made parts of the reference links, which help connect directly to the post and the website, but do not greatly affect the official style.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Citing a blog, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Creative Commons License
Montessori Muddle by Montessori Muddle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.