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References are crucial to a community encyclopedia

All articles on Practical Plants must provide references all facts and data. References give the reader an opportunity to research further into a subject by accessing the source of the information, and they promote rigorous standards for articles by discouraging unverified original research, hearsay, and first-hand experience.

What's wrong with original research and first hand experience?

There is a tendency for original research and first hand experience to lack the rigorous scientific investigation to make it worthy of including in an encyclopedia for others use. Original research which is performed in a rigorous scientific method and published online for comments and criticism by others is valid, personal observations and insufficiently rigorous experiments are not. Any factual claims or data must be backed up by a scientific study. For example, a claim like "Tomatoes should be watered with comfrey liquid for best results" must be referenced with a scientific study eg. a control experiment: a number of tomato plants watered as normal, and a number watered with an equal quantity of comfrey liquid, all kept in otherwise identical environmental conditions. The study must keep regular data on as many variables as possible (eg. daily growth, yield, plant health observations, inputs, outputs, temperatures, sunlight exposure, etc) so that the experiment can be repeated by others and the findings can be validated or opened up for criticism. That is the scientific method, and all references used for articles must employ it.

Information provided by a reference

References can be created for books, websites, and publications. In all cases the reference should supply:

  • Author name
  • Book or article name
  • Publisher, publication, or website name
  • Website URL, book ISBN, or publication issue
  • Date of publication for books and publications; date of access for websites

In some cases, some of this data may be unavailable and therefore left blank, but wherever possible all this data should be included in a reference.

Using references

Most articles created on this website are done with the help of forms, which give the author a number of fields to complete. This includes the ability to add references.

Creating references via forms

To create a reference, click the 'Add another' button under the heading References and complete the fields that are displayed. Once the article is saved this will add the reference to the article but it will not be used until added to the article text or to data, and so will display an error.

Using references in the article text

When creating a reference as described above, the reference is assigned a short unique name, eg. my-reference. To use this reference, find the paragraph you wish to reference in the article text and add the following after it {{Ref | my-reference}}. That will produce a reference like the one following this sentence[1].

Using references for data

@todo: This section needs to be written!

=Adding page numbers or notes to a reference

Page numbers or notes can be added to a reference by adding a second argument to the references template. Eg. {{Ref | my-reference | This is a reference note! }}. This will create a reference that looks like this[1]:This is a reference note!.


  1. ? 1.01.1 Andru Vallance [An Example Reference] Practical Plants (2012-05-26)