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RE: st: how to cite Stata helpfile

From   Nick Cox <>
To   "''" <>
Subject   RE: st: how to cite Stata helpfile
Date   Tue, 8 Nov 2011 16:21:12 +0000

I disagree to some extent with Richard's recommendations, particularly on what he calls "utilities". 

If anybody's published work, meaning work made public, was important to you in work with Stata that you in turn want to publish, then you have a moral obligation to cite it. 

Second-guessing how useful a citation might be to the original author is scarcely the point. Citations that don't help a career much don't do much harm either. 

Also, it so happens that many papers in many fields include little or nothing on the data management that lay behind the analysis, and so there is often not a section where citations would be appropriate, but that is an empirical question, not a matter of principle. 

Also, whether reviewers or editors of certain journals will accept citations to programs alone can be a tricky question, but authors are surely honour-bound to try to cite others' work responsibly and fully. 

There is a bizarre confusion in some quarters between "making freely available", which many people do in the Stata community, and "relinquishing intellectual property rights", a different matter altogether. 


Richard Williams

At 03:05 PM 11/7/2011, Jet wrote:
>HI, how to cite a Stata helpfile (e.g., betafit) if needed? Wonder if
>there is any suggested way to do so. Thanks!

The Stata 12 User's Guide says

The suggested citation for this software is
StataCorp. 2011. Stata: Release 12. Statistical Software. College 
Station, TX: StataCorp LP.

For a built in command, I suppose you could also cite the appropriate 
reference manual. I would especially do that if I was directly 
quoting from the manual. The manual usually has the same text as the 
help file, and more.

For a user-written command --

I would suggest seeing if the help file includes a suggested 
citation. If you  are using one of my programs, my strong preference 
is that you cite one of my published articles, assuming I have 
written a relevant article for the command.

Barring that, or in addition to, you might try citing the repec 
pages. For example, the user-written ivreg2 help file makes this suggestion:

ivreg2 is not an official Stata command. It is a free contribution to 
the research community, like a paper. Please cite it as such:

     Baum, C.F., Schaffer, M.E., Stillman, S. 2010.  ivreg2: Stata 
module for extended instrumental variables/2SLS, GMM and AC/HAC, LIML 
and k-class regression.

As to when to cite - my own feeling is that if you are using a 
user-written estimation command, you should cite the authors of that 
command. Utilities, probably not, unless they had a really major 
impact on the analysis. If you do feel a deep debt of gratitude for 
some utilities, perhaps those authors could be mentioned in the 
acknowledgments instead. Citations of published work are what is 
going to help most scholars the most, but other types of appreciation 
are nice as well.

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