In particular, I would like to understand what the policy is regarding scientific papers (i.e., peer reviewed contents) and non-peer reviewed non-fiction sources.

In my experience, up to now on Stack Exchange, I have found it very useful to read or include citations in the replies, as far as the content of the reply is based on the content of the artifact or the citation, which adds value to the reply.

In which cases can or should content be cited?

  • 1
    To comply with copyright requirements, and to avoid plagiarism, posts that contain material written by others must contain proper attribution.
    – PM 2Ring
    May 26 '20 at 13:07
  • I am asking because I replied to this question and cited a book. What I have written can be considered something derived from the contents of the book, but it is not a copy and paste from the book. Is the citation legit? Could the citation be considered a way to advertise the book?
    – Lorenzo
    May 26 '20 at 13:20

It's perfectly fine to give links that help support your answer, or that provide related material for interested readers.

You can even cite a book (or website) you wrote yourself (or contributed to). But if you are the author of a book you cite like that (or an employee of the publisher) you must disclose that information.

A little bit of self-promotion is acceptable, as long as you disclose your affiliation with the material. However, if the majority of your answers contain links to your books or other commercial content, then people will accuse you of using the site for free advertising, and you are likely to incur spam flags.

On the sites I frequent, we sometimes see new members citing or quoting material from their own books without proper attribution and full disclosure. But we don't blast them with spam flags for that. Instead, we explain the network rules via comments and meta links, and they then fix their posts so that they obey the rules... unless they really are spammers. ;)


In which cases a content can or should be cited?

Any posts should be self contained, thus any sources of information should always be cited instead of simply adding links.
A reference to the original source is mandatory though.

Exceptions are for instance to recommend further readings on the topic with (a list) of links.

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