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I'm currently writing my bachelor thesis, which will involve citing the Angular docs. Angular is a web framework developed by both community developers and employees of Google LLC (Google is the primary maintainer).

I'm aware that, in general, sources that don't specify an author should be treated carefully. However, in this case, the linked document is more or less the highest authority on the matter (short of a direct statement by a developer or Google).

My question is: who do I list as the author of the framework documentation? Google? N/A? Something else?

Please don't focus too much on Angular in your answer - in this specific example, Google is probably the best candidate for the "role of author", but I'd prefer a more general answer.
More specifically, being a computer scientist, this will likely not be the last community-written online docs I will come across, and in other cases there might be no companies or equally important companies involved.

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    have you tried googling the title, to find references to it in places like wikipedia? have you tried searching for the title in places like google scholar, to find citations in actual academic publications? – sesquipedalias Jun 19 at 13:58
  • @sesquipedalias wikipedia often doesn't list an author at all, and if they do, it seems like they simply state the domain of the url (in this case, angular.io). I'm not sure that's the way to do it, though. – PixelMaster Jun 19 at 14:11
  • @sesquipedalias concerning Google Scholar, that's potentially promising, but like I state in the question, Google is an obvious (but not undebateable) choice here. Either way, I'm looking for a more practical solution than scouring scholar for others citing the same source every time. – PixelMaster Jun 19 at 14:15
  • I'm not suggesting you scour scholar every time , since a few consistent examples should be enough to generalise from... (whereas inconsistent examples from serious sources may indicate that this is too modern a situation for style guidelines to have caught up yet) – sesquipedalias Jun 19 at 15:12
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    Have you tried asking them who they want to be listed? – S. Mitchell Jun 19 at 18:24
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This answer follows the APA style, other styles may apply, without loss of generality.

A possible workflow to resolve your problem would be, in order:

1. Check if there is a "how to cite" section and copy it

This is often the case for most datasets, or for some documents.

2. Check if there is a licence

For Angular, it says: Copyright (c) 2010-2019 Google LLC. http://angular.io/license

If you are copying the docs, even to a portion, you have to mention the licence (as stated in the licence itself) besides citing the source. In terms of citations, if you follow APA style:

Google LLC. (2019). Angular Documentation. http://angular.io

Note that Google as a corporation is a legal entity and could sue you, by the same measure it could be considered an author.

3. If none of the above, cite it in a way that makes both attribution and finding easy

E.g. following APA style

Author/Rights-holder. (Year). Title (Version number) [Description of form]. http://

In the context of communities, the right-holder is usually the entity that own the space where the community is hosted, unless otherwise specified (in which case it would fall in one of the two categories above).


A note on links.

Permanent identifiers other than URLs, e.g. DOI, should have a preference as they refer to objects that are mirrored across the web, and in certain cases even printed and shelved. For entities with only URLs, the rule of thumb is to use a URL if it has a high chance of existing in the future, e.g. those of governmental bodies, large corporations, famous databases. For the rest, consider making a request for storing the portions of non-durable websites that are needed for your research, either as supplementary data, or as a durable timestamped mirror.

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