Monday, December 6, 2010

Help citing your sources

Citing your sources in the form of in-text citations (footnotes, endnotes, and parenthetical references) and a bibliography or works cited can be complicated.

First of all, there are the different citation styles. There are two major ones, APA and MLA. In addition, sometimes you'll be asked to use Chicago style for history and CSE for the sciences.

Then there are the different types of sources that can be cited:
  • book
  • journal article
  • web site
  • movie
  • musical recording
  • interview transcript
  • letters
  • online or "electronic" versions of the above
Then there are the questions of when it's required or appropriate to cite:
  • direct quotes (yes, always)
  • you have to cite paraphrases but when does it stop being a paraphrase and start being your original work?
  • you have to cite facts but you don't have to cite common knowledge, so how do you tell which is which?
  • do you cite at the end of a whole paragraph or after each tidbit of information?
Citing is high stakes because if you do it wrong, you can get in trouble for plagiarism even if you didn't mean to steal somebody else's work. So the library provides a lot of help with citing your sources. Every time you have a question about citing your sources, go to this Citing Your Sources Guide. Select the citation style you're using and look through the resources we've provided. If you still have questions, there is a chat box to talk to a librarian right there in the window.

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