I asked TorbenGB to put a bounty on this question because I hadn't received and answer that I liked. I wanted one that had citation, not one that was just based on personal/professional experience. (Not that I'm discounting MarieHendrix's experience.) As someone whose answers are pretty obviously thoroughly researched, I'd like to see more answers like that on this site, but I also don't want to single-handedly be pushing for something that the community doesn't want.

So, the question: should we emphasize/encourage answers to have citations/quotes/obvious research?

3 Answers 3


Hmm, it depends on the question's topic, and on the expectations of the asker.

I think scientific references can be very important, especially when dealing with questions of health (e.g. caffeine effects), and even behavior. Other topics don't need it so badly but rely more on parental experience (e.g. bedtime rituals).

My opinion is that the asker should explicitly state when references are wanted, when posting the question. If it's not asked for, then answerers don't need to provide it. But there might be bonus points if they do include solid background anyway!


Thank you for asking this! This has been bugging me recently, and I think it needs to be addressed.

As Torben mentions, not all questions require research and citations, simply because some questions are about subjects for which there is no research. However, I disagree that it should be up to the asker to specify if they want research and citations when available (although a reminder from the asker can't hurt).

I believe it should be fairly self-evident, based upon the question, whether research and citations should be included. Questions about risks ("is x safe?"), health, developmental milestones, or anything for which research is likely to be performed (e.g. "what is the impact of television on young children?") should absolutely include citations and/or references in every answer.

For other questions, such as practical advice on behavior, routines, or tips and tricks to help reach known milestones (e.g. "how do I get my kid to sleep?"), research and citations aren't likely to be possible. However, answers should still reference personal experiences, and not merely speculation.

Per our faq: "Please note that opinions shared here should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally."


I am aware of some users's experience, and thus I value answers from those users, even if references have not been included. But, other people may not be aware of that person's experience, and thus the answer may not seem as reliable or trust-worthy as it actually is.

So, including references is probably a good thing. Perhaps it's something that people could edit in later, when they have time (or access) to find the refs?

Don't forget that sometimes articles may be hidden behind pay-walls that most people won't have access to.

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