Documentation is a recognized convention that establishes ownership of ideas. Its use demonstrates writers’ interest to fit their ideas into the larger network of ideas within the community of scholars and beyond; using and following standards of documentation also builds the author’s ethos with the audience. Documenting one’s sources is a well-known academic method for entering a scholarly conversation by reacting to other scholars in the community and by providing readers with the information necessary to find referenced sources. While documentation styles may vary from journal to journal depending on editorial style preference—for example, the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA)—the goal of documentation is the same: to identify direct quotations and ideas originated by someone other than the author and to provide specific information regarding how readers can find the original source should they want to pursue the information first hand.

In print texts, the incorporation of direct quotes, paraphrased material, and citations is recognized through formatting conventions. In comparison, webtexts may incorporate typographical and design elements in less conventional ways, thereby challenging readers’ expectations regarding the presentation and citation of others’ words and ideas. For example, cited quotations may be formatted in the screen margins apart from the main text blocks; they may be designed in contrasting fonts, styles, or colors from those of the author’s words; they may appear and disappear across the screen, juxtaposed against the main text then fading as a visual acknowledgement of their other-authorness; or they may simply appear as link text to a references node to indicate information cited from another source. Moreover, the citation format, whether within the text or in the references page, may be unconventionally designed through similar typographic or design experimentation. Regardless of whether the traditional conventions are followed, authors can still achieve rhetorical goals of differentiating their words and ideas from others’ words and ideas in the online environment. The third question in Category A of the assessment tool, which is divided into four sub-sections, explores the extent to which webtexts incorporate print-based documentation styles or new strategies for citation and documentation.

Question 3: Documentation

a) Inclusion of quotation and paraphrase

b) Style: in-text citation

c) Inclusion of references node

d) Style: references