Twitter is a big part of education and technology. But what happens when it needs to be included in an academic paper? Until now, you had to do your best to guess the proper citation for tweets in academic papers. That all just changed.
The Modern Language Association (MLA, yes that MLA format) just released its official usage for citing tweets in academic papers. Here it is:
MLA gives an example using the famous tweet that acknowledged the attack on Bin Laden’s compound in May:
Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.
They go on to elaborate on one of the biggest issues with citing tweets: time. In other words, it’s hard to figure out the proper way to say what time a tweet actually happened. When you include timezones, the issue gets even cloudier.
The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet. However, they allow a researcher to precisely compare the timing of tweets as long as the tweets are all read in a single time zone.
Have you ever included a tweet in an academic paper? Will you remember to cite in this new MLA format if you do? Don’t you just love that the instructions include the term ‘Tweet.’ at the very end?