Citing Online Sources: Ken & Barbie? Or a Set of Nested Russian Dolls?


A query in another forum raises a puzzler to ponder: Is a nested citation the same thing as a layered citation? Or is there a difference? 

Yep. There’s a difference. It’s the difference between having a set of Russian dolls versus a Ken and Barbie that you put into a convertible and send around the playroom.

Nested  is a concept that would apply to citing a manuscript. An individual document exists within a file, which exists within a collection, which exists within a series, which exists within a record group, which exists within an archives, which exists within a city. When we cite a document, we’re citing one item, but it’s tucked inside of something else like the wooden baby in a set of nested Russian dolls. The document is not a standalone item, but part of a bigger series. The baby doll doesn't exist anywhere else and you can't find it unless you know exactly which matryoska it's in.

Layered  is a concept that applies when we cite separate things that have been arbitrarily paired together.  When we find a digital image in an online collection of documents, for example, we have two separate things, each of which need to be fully cited.

LAYER 1: The original document—which would be part of a file or register, which is part of a collection, etc., as above. This original exists somewhere else and can be found at the other location even if the online image evaporates into cyberspace.

LAYER 2: The website that delivered the document—for which a full citation would follow the basic pattern for chapters within books—“Name of Database,” Website Creator, Title of Website (Place of publication=URL : date) and where within the website's organizational scheme we should look.

In a layered citation, Ken and Barbie (two separate things with two separate identities) are now a couple—at least temporarily. If the couple break up, they are still two separate things with two separate identities. They can go their separate ways and we don't need information about one to find the other.

In a nested citation, if we isolate the baby from the set it belongs to, it loses most of its identity. To find it, we need details about the specific matryoska in which it's hidden.

IMAGE: CanStockPhoto ( : downloaded 17 July 2017), image csp2602532, uploaded by Mik122, 21 October 2009.

Posted 17 July 2017