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Feb 9 / Content Moderation Team

Content Standards: Attribution rules for advanced stats and statistical analysis

Bleacher Report’s Attribution Guidelines say that “All quotations, paraphrases, and statistical analysis from other published works must be accompanied by attributions to original source material.”

While quotations and paraphrases are fairly straightforward, it’s a bit more difficult to determine what type of statistical analysis requires sourcing. This involves distinguishing between basic stats (no attribution needed) and advanced stats (attribution required). The tips below should make that process easier to understand.

What’s the difference between a basic stat and an advanced stat?

Anything that can typically be found in a box score or basic league/team/player profile is considered a basic stat. These stats are widely circulated and available in plenty of places, so there’s no need to acknowledge which specific source you may have used to verify the numbers. These often rely on fairly simple arithmetic and can be calculated without too much trouble.

On the other hand, an advanced stat might be exclusive to one source, require intricate data-tracking, come from a complex formula, reside behind a paywall, be a result of a particular writer’s research—or all of the above. The source of such a stat deserves credit for leading you to that information, even if other outlets carry the same figure. That way you’re being completely transparent about how you’ve obtained information that might not be regularly referenced.

Here are examples of sites that may contain advanced stats. Keep in mind that not every stat found on one of these sites qualifies as advanced—we’ll get into that more later:

Multiple Sports:‘s various sites, official league sites,
NCAA Basketball:
World Football:,

Why should I source advanced stats?

If you’re relying on someone else’s research, formula or data in order to supplement your own analysis, it’s proper journalistic practice to credit that source and be completely transparent about how you’ve obtained your information. Basic stats can be found in many different places across the web without too much trouble, so those can be incorporated without attributing a particular source.

How do I source advanced stats?

In the same way that you would provide a hyperlink for a quotation from another source, you should provide a link that leads readers directly to the stat you’re referencing.

Beyond linking, you should properly credit your source by acknowledging it in the text. There are a couple of options for doing so: Either name your source alongside the hyperlinked stat or include a tagline clarifying where your stats come from. The latter option is particularly useful if you have multiple advanced stats in an article—that way you don’t have to continue naming your source throughout the text.

An in-text citation looks like this:

According to, Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in adjusted yards per pass attempt at 10.14.

If you choose to go with a tagline to cover all of your citations, it would look like this:

In the article: Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in adjusted yards per pass attempt at 10.14.

Article tagline: All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Regardless of how you decide to name the source of your advanced stats, there should be a link showing where each of your stats is located. If the same link shows more than one of the stats you’ve referenced, no need to link it repeatedly.

Exception: If you’re using a built-in table to present advanced stats, naming your source in the required caption field is sufficient attribution since there’s no logical place to provide multiple links.

Sometimes a unique URL leading to your stat does not exist, in which case you should provide a hyperlink that takes readers as close to the stat as possible.

For example, if you mention where Kyle Korver’s true shooting percentage ranks league-wide, this link is the closest you can get to showing that. While the stat won’t show up immediately upon opening that page, readers can click TS% in order to sort the players accordingly and see where Korver stands.

Why do we characterize true shooting percentage as an advanced stat? Because it comes from a complex formula—that formula is: points / [2 x (field goals attempted + .44 x free throws attempted)]. As you can see, it’s not exactly the type of figure found in a box score or one that’s widely circulated. So even though the same stat (both category and actual value) is available at other sites like Basketball-Reference and, meaning the formula isn’t proprietary to one source, you should show exactly how you know it to be true considering it’s somewhat obscure.

Still, an advanced stat is not always the result of a complex formula.

If I write that Giancarlo Stanton hit 16 home runs after facing a count of zero balls and one strike, that stat comes from simple arithmetic. However, it clearly took intricate data-tracking by somebody else—like Baseball-Reference—to determine his performance split up by specific counts. You should credit that source for their research and for making it available to writers like yourself to bolster your argument. You might have gotten the same stat from’s database, in which case that’s the source you’d acknowledge in your article.

Take-Home Note

If you’re unsure how a stat would be characterized, err on the side of caution and provide attribution while keeping the following notes in mind.

Advanced stats could be one of the following:

  • behind a paywall
  • calculated through complex formulas that require more than basic arithmetic
  • only available at one or a few sports outlets, not most of them
  • unlikely to appear in standard box scores