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Administrivia / How to Cite TV Tropes

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So, you want to use TV Tropes as a reference in a paper you're writing. How, you might ask, do you cite our articles, since identifying the author and publication date is not straightforward for something like a wiki?

Short answer: You don't.

We are considered, in academic terms, a "tertiary source", like an encyclopedia (or, indeed, Wikipedia). Anyone can edit our articles, they are not peer reviewed, and there is no guarantee that any information contained in them is factual, reliable, or permanent. Tracing authorship to a individual is basically impossible.

  • If, for example, you're writing about The Lord of the Rings, and you want to cite something that happens in the book, you could use TV Tropes to find the thing you're looking for, but you would use the book itself as the reference, not TV Tropes.
  • If you are writing about academic research conducted on The Lord of the Rings, you would cite that academic research directly, not a TV Tropes article that mentions it.

What about a paper on TV Tropes itself?

Okay, this is a little different. If you are writing about what TV Tropes has to say about a particular subject — for example, you're researching the effect of analysis of media on how people consume it, or the origin of the name Xanatos Gambit as a trope — then we could be a direct (primary) source.

We don't have an official guide for writing citations for our articles. That's something to discuss with your professor, publisher, etc. Wikipedia does have a citation guide, and the styles it recommends for web citations could apply to us as well, with a few caveats.

  • TV Tropes articles may move or change over time. Be aware of this when writing your paper.
  • We don't make available full past versions of articles. Our public history function shows diffs only. If your style guide requires citing and referencing a specific version of an article, you're probably out of luck, unless your citation goes to something like The Wayback Machine instead of us.
  • Identifying the author of a page is pointless, as many people may contribute to any given article. For purposes of authorship credit, TV Tropes itself should be cited. The format of this citation will depend on what style guide you're following.

Do not plagiarize us.

Regardless of anything said above, any text directly quoted from TV Tropes must cite TV Tropes as the source. Failing to do so is considered plagiarism. Our Creative Commons license contains additional information about your rights with respect to using, reusing, or creating derivative works from TV Tropes' content.

See also Welcome to TV Tropes, under "Your Rights (Legal Stuff)".

For additional questions, please post in Ask The Tropers. For additional information on your legal rights or permissions beyond our content license, contact one of our administrators (see Know the Staff).