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I often (always?) find myself referencing papers in my answers. So far, mostly due to laziness, I just write something like "see here" or "look at this paper". This is of course not the proper way, especially for a site that engage professionals.

I am trying to improve and I am now writing references properly like Watson J & Crick F, 1953.

I have three questions:

  1. Is there a rule about references? If not we should, in my opinion, at least encourage the use of properly written references.
  2. If no rules exist, do we want to instaure an actual strict rule for references? This reference can be written as [1], $^1$ or Watson J & Crick F, 1953 for example. Due to Markdown limitation I think the latter is the best but also requires slightly more work. I also like $^1$ as one might want to train itself in writing reference in the Nature-like style ;-).
  3. Is there a way to use or implement bibliography software such as Biblatex or Mendeley?
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The answer to 3 is no. What we are using is Mathjax not LaTeX. Here is what David Cervone (a Mathjax developer) says about trying to add packages to Mathjax in case you wondering if it will be an option later. Since adding packages is difficult if they are nontrivial, I don't think bibtex or any of the citation variants will ever be added.

For 1, there is no rule, but if someone doesn't reference, their answer may be downvoted so if that is the risk they want to take that is on them.

For 2, we could implement a rule but that would be tough and hard to enforce. That isn't to say we cant try but I don't think it would be a successful endeavor.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Indeed it will not be trivial to add such a package. I feel like it might go beyond SE.bio and might be used in other scientific fields but on the other hand I am not sure it is worth the effort. For point 2, a clarification in the help section may suffice. When I joined SE I had no clues about that so I just looked at what people were doing. I would have followed a recommendation if any was available. $\endgroup$ Mar 31 '15 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ @cagliari2005 Unfortunately, most people don't read FAQs and help section. If they did, they wouldn't ask no effort questions. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Mar 31 '15 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ I must say that I (sadly) agree... $\endgroup$ Mar 31 '15 at 4:26
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  1. No, there is no rule about references, only the demand for answers to be properly references. This can be done with scientific publications (preferrably) but also with websites which contain serious information.

  2. I don't think we need this here. I for example prefer to number my references in the text and then add a numbered list at the end. I also don't like the numbered Nature style very much, as it is easy to overlook the numbers. I would prefer [1]. Using this style outside of Nature publications is kind of pointless, as every publisher has it'S own style.

  3. I don't think so.

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