Essay published online

I am having difficulty formulating a citation for an essay which looks to me like it was written for the University of Cambridge and then published by Gale. There is a suggested citation for it at the end of the document and not sure if that I should use that since it doesn't mention the university.

Lloyd, Amy J.: “Emigration, Immigration and Migration in NineteenthCentury Britain.” British Library Newspapers. Detroit: Gale, 2007.

I'm not sure what the best approach is but was thinking perhaps it should be treated similarly to a thesis. One thing I should mention is that I found the paper through a Google search. If I search the Gale website, I cannot find it.

Would something like this work?

 Lloyd, Amy J., “Emigration, Immigration and Migration in Nineteenth-Century Britain, pdf (essay, University of Cambridg, 2007)  3–4; British Library Newspapers, Gale ( : viewed 14 February 2024).





Submitted byEEon Fri, 02/16/2024 - 09:01

Ah, what a doozie you’ve found, Hendrickson! We love online materials for their ease of access, but the ways in which they are organized, labeled, and delivered can make citations challenging.

You are right to question the “sample citation” that is offered. Aside from the fact that it is styled as a Bibliography Entry, rather than the Reference Note that you need, we have a bigger issue: website and institutional staffers who write citations often do not understand the needs of the researchers who will use that citation and the material itself. In this case, the suggested citation does not identify at all the website where the material is found and cites something (“newspapers”) that is not used at all. If we mimicked that, readers of our citation would be misled as to what we actually used. 

Studying the structure of the website reveals this:

  • The website creator is Gale International, whose home page is (which changes to
  • This website has various modules, each with its own landing page—one of which is Primary Sources.
  • At the Primary Sources landing page, there are other modules with their own landing pagse—one of which is Gale Digital Scholar Lab.  An exploration of that module suggests that it is a module in which scholars themselves can post PDFs of papers they’ve written that have not been published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • From there, I see no way to get to the paper you cite. There is a search box, but I get no hit when I type in the name of the author. When I type in the name of the essay, I get one hit and it is not the essay you found.

Obviously, it is good that you captured the exact URL. Using that URL takes us to the article, where we see this:


Analyzing what we see will give us this:

  • A “cover page” with name of author, title of the paper, author’s affiliation, and a publisher that is named in the top left corner as Gale Primary Sources.
  • Below the title is an illustration with a tiny little header stating: “Various source media, British Library Newspapers.” However, we find no indication that this essay was published in any newspaper.
  • The footer of each page of the essay credits Gale: A Cengage Company.
  • The end of the paper carries the citation you copied (styled as a Bibliography Entry, not a Reference Note), a copyright statement for Cengage Learning 2007, and a backward link labeled Gale Digital Scholar Lab.

A standard citation to an article (essay, database, etc.) published at a website would contain these essential elements:

Author (affiliation), “Title of Article, Essay, Database,” Title: Subtitle of Website (URL : date access), specific location.

Using the pieces of data that the website provides, to create a citation that is relocatable and one that clearly conveys what is used, EE would settle for the following (unless someone can present a sound argument to the contrary):

Amy J. Lloyd (University of Cambridge), “Emigration, Immigration, and Migration in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” Gale Primary Sources: Gale Digital Scholar Lab ( : accessed 16 February 2024), unnumbered p. 3.  (Or the specific location could be cited by section header and paragraph.)

I might add that “University of Cambridge” is not essential to the citation. The essay does not appear to be the product of the University of Cambridge. The academic affiliation seems to be stated on the title page only to “add scholarly credibility” to what the author has to say.  There is no “author bio” to tell us whether the author is on the faculty of the University of Cambridge or whether she is a student. The brevity and general synthetic nature of the article, citing eight books and no evidence of original scholarship, suggests that the author is a student.  That's a factor we would weigh in deciding the amount of credibility we take from this online essay.

Submitted byHendricksonon Sat, 02/17/2024 - 13:19

Thank you for your help.  You mention that 'newspapers' isn't used anywhere but it's a content type under Primary Sources. Not that I am sure it matters all that much.

I am also wondering why you chose to use Gale Digital Scholar Lab, rather than just Gale which is the name of the website?

Do I need to mention that it is a PDF or that it is a research paper?


Hendrickson, it is indeed a confusing website. If you wish to cite simply Gale as the title of the website, no one would fault you.  Then there would be other modules to identify, somewhere in the citation.

Because the essay is a PDF, there is no titled landing page for it. It's a PDF file attached to an actual titled landing page. The cover sheet for the essay is headed "Gale Primary Sources." At the landing page titled Gale Primary Sources (, we have options to choose between:

  • Archives Unbound
  • Gale Digital Scholar Lab
  • Gale Historical Newspapers
  • Media History
  • Politics and Society
  • Colonial Studies
  • etc.

My suggested citation treats the sub-module as a subtitle of the main title for that page, Gale Primary Sources. This is rational, because Gale Digital Scholar Lab is a landing page subservient to the landing page for Gale Primary Sources. 

If you prefer to cite only Gale as the website title, then the identification of these modules that represent the pathway through the whole website would be placed after the URL, typically before the page number, as in

( : accessed 16 February 2024) > Gale Primary Sources > Gale Digital Scholar Lab > unnumbered p. 3. 

In this case, citing the path in that field does not logically work because you cannot go from the URL to the two stops along the path, to get to that page number. There's a titled essay that has to be identified in that path before one can seek the page number. 

You may, if you wish, add a descriptor such as "essay" after the title of the essay and before the title of the website. This parallels other uses for that descriptor field such as "database with images." EE's suggested citation did not explicitly say that this is an essay because the title is reasonably self descriptive. An essay is what one would expect from the title and the PDF format. The word "PDF" was not included in the citation because it would be redundant; the URL itself ends in PDF.