Quality of site content

I have done my very best to ensure that this site provides good, accurate information on its subjects. During my research, I have drawn on material from the scientific literature, including peer-reviewed journals, and well respected books. In some cases I have drawn on Internet sources; but where this is the case, the information is either referenced as such (and additional caution should be applied when assuming accuracy) or I have traced the references to the appropriate literature. Where possible, use of Internet sites has been restricted to scientific institution and animal welfare websites. Information is also presented based on my own personal observations and the observations of others – where included, it is clearly noted as such. Ultimately, Wildlife Online is my creation and I am responsible for its upkeep and content. Any problems with, or questions about, the site and/or its content should be directed to me. Should you have a grievance with the way I have presented or interpreted any of your research/observations, please contact me in writing explaining your complaint. If there is a requirement to remove information from the site, this will be done within 48 hours, subject to my availability and access to the server.

Presentation of material and plagiarism

Plagiarism is the appropriation of ideas, writings, etc. from another work or author as your own. In other words, plagiarism is claiming or implying that you’re the author/creator of something that you are not, or incorporating material from someone else’s work in your own without the appropriate credit. In 1997, a study was published in the Psychological Record giving the results of a survey of undergraduates; according to the paper 36% admitted to plagiarizing material at some point. Despite this, such false attribution is a very serious academic offence.

In my opinion, plagiarism — by its most rigorous definition, at least — is a rather difficult problem to avoid when writing a non-scientific website. In the scientific literature, it is fairly easy to guard against; basically, every statement you make that isn’t derived from your own research/experience should be cited appropriately. So, for example, something like the statement that appeared on an early version of my homepage would be written as:

An increase in brain cavity from the roughly 500 cubic centimetres of Australopithecus (the oldest known hominids) to the modern Homo sapiens’ brain volume of 1,400 cc in only about three million years (Dawkins, 1991) has helped us manipulate the global environment in a way unlike any other species before us.

I would then have a bibliography, in which I would pick-up the citation above as: Dawkins, R. (1991). The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books, London. This would let anyone reading the piece know that my claim of Australopithecus’ brain size was not discovered during the course of my research; rather that it was quoted from someone else’s data.

My intention with Wildlife Online was not, however, to write a scientific literature review of the species featured here. Rather, my plan was to incorporate data from a number of reliable scientific and popular sources into an approachable and accessible resource. As such, I did not want citations in the text or a (likely huge) bibliography. So, I have done my very best to cover the primary bases of courtesy and make note of the more general details of the science when I use it. I mention, for example, that the information is taken from a scientific paper and generally give the journal name, date and at least one of the authors. Where I have relied on quotes or references from particular books, I have given the title and name of the author(s) and clearly indicated that it is a quote by putting the text between quotation marks and in italicised font. I also give a reasonably comprehensive list of the books I have used on my Recommended Reading list. I am happy to provide specific citations for information upon request.

I hope that my attempts to make the work of others distinct from my own observations are sufficient to placate the researchers whose work I reference. Nonetheless, I would like to make it abundantly clear that unless otherwise stated, the information contained on this website does not stem from any of my own research. Where such material is my own, I have made this clear. If anyone feels that their work has been misrepresented or inappropriately cited/referenced, please contact me and I will strive to resolve the situation as quickly as I can. I am committed to maintaining an accurate resource and I hope to have such instances corrected/removed within 48 hours of your initial e-mail.

If I receive a substantial number of complaints about the style, I will consider revising my citation procedure. The site has been running since 2003, however, and to-date I have not received any complaints about the format.

Use of photos/artwork

I accept that I have not seen every photo of a fox, badger, squirrel, hedgehog, etc. that has ever been taken and, as such, I cannot be 100% sure that someone isn’t passing off someone else’s photo as their own. I am confident, however, that all the photos and artwork featured on this site either appear with the artist’s express permission, or are circulated on the Internet under a GNU Licence. In no instance, have I ‘lifted’ photos or drawings from the Internet or from books, and I would be very grateful if visitors would refrain from doing the same. The photos have been provided by people who love their local wildlife and want to share their experience with others – their images help make Wildlife Online that much more entertaining and the site would be lost without them. The photographers/artists retain copyright of their images and are free to request the image be removed at any time. Each photo or drawing has line credit to the contributor and his or her name is listed on the Many Thanks page, where a link to their website — or a website of their choosing — can be found if they requested one.

If you see a photo/drawing of yours on here for which you have not provided permission, I would appreciate it if you could inform me ASAP and I will either remove or reattribute it, according to your wishes. If you have a photo that you want to contribute, please see the Photos Needed page for full terms of submission.

Anyone wishing to use a photo from my site must obtain permission directly from the photographer/artist. Where said contributor has a website, there will more often than not be a contact e-mail on it for you to reach them. Where no such website exists, requests can be directed through me.