Appendix B
Proper use of online resources

Apart from printed material such as books and journals, source material from online resources should also be properly acknowledged in academic writing.

Mild cases of failure to acknowledge would be regarded as poor academic writing. Serious cases of failure to acknowledge, especially where there appears to be the intention to mislead the reader about the originality, would constitute plagiarism.

The following examples are based on the APA style; different disciplines and style systems may differ slightly. Again the most important point about citing electronic source materials is not the format per se but the inclusion of all information necessary for identifying the source being cited. There is one important difference from printed works. The same web site (as identified by its URL) may change its contents from day to day; therefore the date of retrieval should always be included.

For further guide on APA style, see:
Reference Examples for Electronic Source Materials. APA (

  1. Article in an Internet-only journal

    Stephanie B. (2005, April). The democratic divide. First Monday, 10 (4). Retrieved April 30, 2005, from

  2. Article in an online newspaper

    Appleby, Julie. (2005, April 29). Medical costs prove a burden even for some with insurance. USA TODAY. Retrieved April 29, 2005, from

  3. Article in an online magazine, no author identified

    (2005, April 14). Hale and healthy. The Economist. Retrieved April 16, 2005, from

  4. Webpage with author name but no date

    McAdoo, Oliver. (n.d.). In the Matrix, which pill would you take, the red or the blue? Retrieved April 16, 2005, from

  5. Webpage, no author identified, no date

    GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from

    (Note: If the author of a document is not identified, begin the reference with the title of the document.)

  6. Document available on university programme or department web site, or other complex websites from private or public organizations

    Chou, L., McClintock, R., Moretti, F., Nix, D. H. (1993). Technology and education: New wine in new bottles: Choosing pasts and imagining educational futures. Retrieved August 24, 2000, from Columbia University, Institute for Learning Technologies web site:

    (Note: If a document is contained within a large and complex web site (such as that for a university or a government agency), identify the host organization and the relevant programme or department before giving the URL for the document itself. Precede the URL with a colon.)

  7. Electronic copy of a journal article, three to five authors, retrieved from database

    Borman, W. C., Hanson, M. A., Oppler, S. H., Pulakos, E. D., & White, L. A. (1993). Role of early supervisory experience in supervisor performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 443-449. Retrieved October 23, 2000, from PsycARTICLES database.

    (Note: When referencing material obtained by searching an aggregated database, follow the format appropriate to the work retrieved and add a retrieval statement that gives the date of retrieval and the proper name of the database.)

  8. Electronic copy of a newspaper or magazine article, retrieved from WiseNews

    Leung, Ambrose. (2005, April 29). Tsang getting ready to stand. South China Morning Post. Retrieved April 30, 2005, from WiseNews database.

Reference can also be made to the following two online sources for the proper use and examples of online resources in academic writing:

  1. Sources - Their Use and Acknowledgement by Dartmouth College

  2. A Guide for Writing Research Papers Based on Modern Language Association (MLA) Documentation - Materials from Electronic, Online Resources, by Capital Community College

Reference may also be made to the book Effective Writing: A Guide for Social Science Students written by Dr. Pedro Ng, published by the Chinese University Press, 2003.


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