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Memory Alpha:Resource policy

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This page describes one of Memory Alpha's policies and guidelines

Please read through the policy below to familiarize yourself with our common practices and rules.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please post them on the talk page.

This is currently only a draft policy. Please feel free to expand upon this article, but please explain any and all changes you make at Memory Alpha talk:Research policy.

Memory Alpha bills itself as a database devoted to "everything about Star Trek". In our quest to find out whether information is truly about Star Trek, we have to analyze what "Star Trek" is sometimes, a task which requires research.

Star Trek is owned by Paramount Pictures. We have set limits in pages about canon policy and how to cite your sources - so that non-canon Star Trek is considered to be invalid for this site's POV, and that "bootleg" Star Trek is considered fan fiction – that is, it was created by a third party, outside of what is legally allowed to be sold or used commercially under the name Star Trek, and therefore, not a primary part of this database.

However, many sources independent of Paramount do have meaningful and worthwhile data about the production, creation and circulation of what we know as Star Trek. For example, magazines, books and other review publications frequently reference Star Trek, or its creators, in a manner intended to convey information to the public.

Since Memory Alpha is one such source, it should be and is possible for this site to use such publications as sources, in our desire to be as informative and complete as possible – and convey this information to our readers.

Primary research

Primary research is straightforward – it includes all sources recognized on MA to be valid resources – that is, the episodes and movies of Star Trek itself. Every time information is derived from and episode or movie, this information is cited by means of a link to our MA article about that resource, in the paragraph where the information appears. For example:

Spock died and his body was left on the Genesis Planet. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Data received a message from Noonien Soong. (TNG: "Brothers")

Secondary research

Secondary research has a much wider field – and deals with more than just our "valid resource" articles. Secondary research needs to be identified and cited, whether it is in a Star Trek universe or Star Trek franchise article.

Secondary resources
  • Star Trek publications licensed by Paramount
  • Publications of other sources containing information about Star Trek.
    • Review publications of Star Trek containing press releases or other verifiable data.
    • Publications of interviews with Star Trek personalities and production staff.
    • Websites containing verifiable information (reviews, interviews or observations about Star Trek).

Secondary research in Star Trek universe articles

Secondary research information could deal with a valid resource, yet be derived from another resource. Verifiable information about a "Star Trek universe" resource that can be added to an article body (for example, a name or spelling from a script, but not included in filming; or a registry number detailed to a model at the time of filming but not visible in the final product).

In accordance with the canon policy, secondary research cannot be cited as a valid resource – it should be added in the "background" section of the article, after the valid resource it pertains to is cited properly. For example:

The ship's dedication plaque specified that it was an Oberth-class vessel. (TNG: "The Naked Now")
The information about class and registry wasn't directly visible in the episode, but a closer examination of the plaque was included in Starlog issue #XX, where the background art was published.

The valid resource is the episode, "The Naked Now", but the secondary research that gives us the information is a print of the set artwork, which is not perceivable from viewing the episode, but is part of the actual production material used in filming.

If the resource being cited is not part of a Paramount production (for example, a photo published instead by a member of the production staff), then a link to some aspect of that resource should be included.

The starship had three ports on its starboard side. (TNG: "Gambit, Part I")
The information about the ship isn't visible in the episode, but is derived from a photograph taken of the filming model by This Reputable Website's Owner.

Secondary research in Star Trek franchise articles

Secondary research in Star Trek franchise articles involves sourcing information about episodes, performers and production staff.

For example, a link to or could be used to cite information about the fact that an actor has appeared in a film with another actor.

Further examples could be birthdates, personal information about actors derived from their own biography, or some other type of verifiable or published biographical information. For example:

According to his autobiography, To the Stars, George Takei was part of the Japanese-American population sent to World War II era internment camps.

Unverifiable research

Every so often, there will be conflicts over the sources of information. This may lead to user projects where research will have to be expanded.

For example, if an interview with Rick Sternbach appears on a website, but is doubted or questioned, an e-mail or other communication to the website or to Rick Sternbach himself could shed light on the authenticity of the information.

Because of the wide range of forms these queries could take, there is currently no set form in this policy for verifying data, but it is recommended, for accuracy's sake, that a consensus of archivists interesting in resolving the matter be reached before any official action on the part of MA is taken, and that a MA admin be informed of the intention and intended means to clarify the source.

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