Citing Sources in a Research Paper
What Is a Citation?
In research and writing, a citation is a brief reference to a source of published information, providing sufficient bibliographic detail to enable the reader to locate a copy of the source (if copies exist). A citation that does not provide the minimum amount of information is considered incomplete. Citations found in printed and electronic documents are not always correct--they may contain erroneous information, making it impossible for the researcher to locate the original source. The elements included in a citation depend on the format of the material cited (book, article, electronic document, etc.).
A book citation can be distinguished from an article citation by the presence of 1) place of publication and 2) publisher. Also, the publication date for a book is usually given as the year, rather than the month and year, as may be the case for an issue of a periodical.
- Example: Klotzko, Arlene J., ed. The Cloning Sourcebook. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.
A citation for an article published in a periodical (newspaper, magazine, or scholarly journal) can be distinguished from a book citation by the presence of 1) the article title, 2) the journal title, 3) the volume number, and 4) inclusive page numbers.
- Example: Wara, Michael W. "Permanent El Niño-Like Conditions during the Pliocene Warm Period." Science 309 (2005): 758-762.
A citation for a work (essay, article, story, poem, etc.) published in a collected work or anthology can be distinguished from a book citation by the presence of 1) the article title in addition to the title of the book and 2) inclusive page numbers; and from a citation for a periodical article by the presence of 1) place of publication and 2) publisher.
- Example: Loughran, James N. "Reasons for Being Just." The Value of Justice: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Social Virtue. Ed. Charles A. Kelbley. New York: Fordham UP, 1979. 39-57.
Citing Electronic Sources
A citation for a document retrieved from an electronic database or online publication differs from a citation for an article published in print by the presence of an Internet address, usually the URL of the document at the time it was retrieved.
- Example: VandenBos, G., Knapp, S., & Doe, J. (2001). Role of reference elements in the selection of resources by psychology undergraduates. Journal of Bibliographic Research, 5, 117-123. Retrieved October 13, 2001, from http://jbr.org/articles.html
Why Do We Cite?
Scholars and students cite to inform their readers of the sources used in their research and to credit individuals whose previous efforts have facilitated their work. Plagiarism is the presentation of a little-known fact or an idea found in another source as if it were one's own, a serious breach of academic integrity. Promising careers in academia have foundered on a scholar's failure to give credit where credit was due, and many colleges and universities in the United States, including WCSU, consider plagiarism grounds for disciplinary action.
Citations are also used in indexes and abstracting services, bibliographies, and electronic databases that specialize in compiling lists of sources to facilitate research (often in a specific discipline or field of study). Because these tools are published by different publishing companies and citation style is not standardized, the same work may be cited slightly differently in one index or bibliography than in another, as these two examples illustrate:
- A foster care research agenda for the '90s. R. Goerge and others. bibl Child Welf v73 p525-49 S/O '94
- (from Social Sciences Index)
- Goerge, Robert; Wulczyn, Fred; & Fanshel, David. (1994). A foster care research agenda for the '90s. Child Welfare, 73, 525-549.
- (from Child Development Abstracts and Bibliography)
PLEASE NOTE that in the citation from Social Sciences Index, the journal title Child Welf is an abbreviation of the full title Child Welfare, and the month of issue is abbreviated S/O for September/October. The publisher's conventions of abbreviation are usually stated at the beginning of each index volume, often in a list of "Abbreviations of Periodicals Indexed." Abbreviated titles are rarely used in electronic journal databases.
Unfortunately for the student, there is no single standardized format for citations. Different forms have evolved through usage in specific disciplines. The three most commonly used citation styles have been developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA) for use in the humanities, the American Psychological Association (APA) for use in the social sciences, and in The Chicago Manual of Style, preferred by many writers. The following citations, representing the same book, illustrate differences between the three styles:
- MLA Style:
- Leakey, Richard, and Roger Lewin. Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
- APA Style:
- Leakey, R., & Lewin, R. (1992). Origins reconsidered: In search of what makes us human. New York: Doubleday.
- The Chicago Manual of Style:
- Leakey, Richard, and Roger Lewin. Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human. New York, Doubleday, 1992.
This lack of uniformity can make life difficult for the student. If you are writing a research paper for a particular course, the professor may require that a specific citation style be used for the assignment. Read the course syllabus carefully--if citation style is not specified in the syllabus, ask your instructor before investing time and effort in the formatting of your notes and bibliography. If you are allowed to choose a citation style, then once you have made your decision, be sure to maintain the same style throughout the paper. Your instructor will expect consistency and may count any inconsistencies against you.
Here is a list of published guides to citation style, available in print from the WCSU libraries, for use in citing sources published in print and online. Please note that items on RESERVE have a shorter borrowing period than normal. To check out a guide at the Circulation Desk, you must present your barcoded student ID card. Copies in reference may not be checked out, but you may use them on the premises and make photocopies of the pages you need. Copy machines are available on the first floor of the Haas Library (near the CyberCafe) and on the third floor.
|The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors. 2nd edition.||Haas Ref QD 8.5.A25 1997|
|American Medical Association Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. 9th edition.||Haas Ref R 119.A533 1998|
|The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Revised edition.||Young Ref PN 4783.A83 2002|
|The Bedford Handbook. Hacker. 6th edition.||Haas Ref PE 1408.H277 2002|
|The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th edition.||ON RESERVE - Haas Circ Desk|
|A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Turabian. 6th edition.||ON RESERVE - Haas Circ;|
Young Ref LB 2369.T8 1996
|MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th edition.||ON RESERVE - Haas Circ Desk|
|MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 2nd edition.||ON RESERVE - Haas Circ Desk|
|Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 4th edition.||ON RESERVE - Haas Circ;|
Haas Ref BF 76.7.P83
Information on citation style is also available online. Here is a selected list of Web sites for your assistance:
There are three main ways to uses sources in your research paper. You may quote. You may paraphrase. Or you may summarize. All three require an in-text (parenthetical) citation!
You CANNOT use information from any website or published book unless you give the author (or site) credit--BOTH inside your text and at the end of your paper. In other words, it is NOT enough to simply list the sources you used on a Works Cited Page or References List.
As your instructor reads your essay, he or she should clearly be able to see which sentences, facts, or sections of your essay came from Source A, Source B, or Source C, etc. by looking at your in-text citations.
You can give credit to your sources within your text in two different ways: by using a signal phrase or by simply using an in-text citation.
Signal phrase: a signal phrase lets the reader know, right at the beginning of the sentence, that the information he or she is about to read comes from another source.
Example: Your paper might say something like....According to John Smith (2006), author of Pocahontas Is My Love, "Native American women value a deep spiritual connection to the environment."
Notice that since I took a direct quote from John Smith's book, I placed those words in quotation marks. Notice also that I placed the date that the book was published directly after the author's name in parentheses--this is proper APA format. Finally, notice that because I explained WHO wrote the book and WHAT book it comes from, the reader is easily able not only to find the source on his/her own to check my facts, but the reader is also more likely to believe what I have to say now that they know that my information comes from a credible source.
For Web Sources: If I was using a particular website (instead of John Smith's book), the signal phrase would look exactly the same, but I would say "According to Pocahontasrules.com..."
In-Text Citation: Use an in-text citation in situations where you are not quoting someone directly, but rather using information from another source such as a fact, summary, or paraphrase to support your own ideas.
Example: She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style," but she did not offer an explanation (Jones, 1998, p. 199).
Notice that it's clear within this sentence that I'm referring to a certain person's beliefs, but since this person's name does not appear at the beginning of the sentence, I have placed her name, the year that her article was published, and the page number where I retrieved this information in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
Information on how to format an in-text citation
Summarize an article or a larger section of an article whenever you simply want to present the author's general ideas in your essay.
How to Write an Effective Summary: Cover up the original article, it is key that you not quote from the original work. Restate what you've read in your own words, and be sure to give the author credit using an in-text citation.
Example: Congressman Joe Smith (2009) believes that our approach to reforming the healthcare system is backwards and costly. He discusses our rising national debt in "Healthcare: Let's Talk" and lists several statistics to prove that Obama's new plan will only make things worse.
Summaries are most often used to condense larger texts into more manageable chucks. However, as a writer you should be aware that this more manageable chunks and easily become vague and weigh your paper down with fluff.
Paraphrase your sources whenever you believe that you can make the information from a source shorter and/or clearer for your audience. A paraphrase is NOT an exact copy of the original, simply changing a few words here and there is NOT acceptable.
Take a look at these examples:
The original passage from The Confident Student (6th ed.): “Whatever your age, health and well-being can affect your ability to do well in college. If you don’t eat sensibly, stay physically fit, manage your stress, and avoid harmful substances, then your health and your grades will suffer” (Kanar 158).
A legitimate paraphrase: No matter what condition your body is in, you can pretty much guarantee that poor health habits will lead to a lack of academic success. Students need to take time for their physical and emotional well-being, as well as their studies, during college (Kanar 158).
A plagiarized version: No matter how old you are, your well-being and your health can impact your ability to do a good job at school. If you choose not to eat well, exercise, deal with stress, and avoid getting drunk, then your grades will go down (Kanar 158).
Because the art of paraphrasing is more concise than summarizing, a true paraphrase shows that you as a researcher completely understand the source work.
Quoting your sources
If you need help incorporating your sources into your essay, the first thing you'll need to remember is that quotes cannot stand alone--they can't be placed in a sentence all by themselves. You need to make each quote a part of your essay by introducing it beforehand and commenting on it afterward.
Think of each quote like a sandwich—the quote is the meat on the inside, but before you taste the meat, you must also be introduced to the sandwich by the bread. After you bite down on that meat, you need the other piece of bread to round out the meal.
The top piece of bread will tell us where the quote came from and/or how it fits in with what’s already been discussed in the essay. The bottom piece of bread points out what was important about the quote and elaborates on what was being said.
How do I use partial quotations to liven up my writing?
Be sure to introduce the author from the source work within the sentence itself and use quotation marks. No comma is necessary to introduce the quoted phrase.
Margaret Reardon points out that today's economy cars are "better equipped" to handle accidents than the smaller cars of the past.
What are block quotations and how are they handled?
Block, or indent, quotations longer than four lines of type. When a quotation is indented, the use of quotation marks is not necessary, and the page number is included outside the ending punctuation.
Like many people who enjoy a leisurely pace of living with such attendant activities as reading, painting, or gardening, I often long for a simpler time, a time when families amused themselves by telling stories after supper, as opposed to watching Baghdad get bombed. (1)
Block quotes are indented by one inch, and should be used sparingly.
How do I punctuate shorter quotations?
For a quotation shorter than four lines, quotation marks are used and the page numbers fall inside the ending punctuation.
According to DR. Shannon Marcus: "Many of our student's personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions," (548).
Do I use a comma or a colon to introduce a quotation?
A quotation is usually introduced by a comma or a colon. A colon precedes when a quotation is formally introduced or when the quotation itself is a complete sentence, but either no punctuation or a comma generally precedes when the quotation serves as an integral part of the sentence.
Shelley argued thus: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."
She thought poets "the unacknowledged legislators of the world."
"Poets," according to Shelley, "are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."
Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" concludes: "A sadder and a wiser man, / He rose the morrow morn."
How do I correctly change a quotation to suit my purpose, such as to identify a pronoun?
Often, a quotation you wish to use includes a pronoun instead of a name. Since you must copy the quotation verbatim, you should insert the name after the pronoun to clarify who you are talking about. Use brackets (not parenthesis).
Example: "He [Clapton] got the chills when he listened to that material recently."
What if my quotation contains a mistake?
Additionally, if your source makes a “mistak”, you copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim. However, you indicate that the mistake is not yours by using [sic], which means "thus" and tells the reader that the error appears in the original.
The professor stressed that "if your source makes a mistak [sic], you should copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim."
If quotations are verbatim, how do I leave something out of a quotation that I do not need?
Use ellipsis marks if you wish to leave something out of the middle of a quotation (perhaps it is not needed or will make your quotation too long).
She states that
many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. Virtual reality will make it possible for them to program themselves into scenarios we now merely fantasize about. As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)
Quoted with ellipses:
She states that
many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. . . . As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)
Note 1: There are only three ellipses marks used in this sentence. A period also appears, indicating that one sentence ended before the word "As." If you had only left out a few words in mid-sentence, then you would not need a period.
Note 2: Do not change the meaning of the quotation when you leave out part of it!
Note 3: Notice that now that information has been removed from the middle of the quotation, it is only three lines long. It should no longer be indented.
Use ellipsis marks ( . . . ) at the beginning and end of quotations only if necessary. It is not always necessary to do so, and too many will damage the flow of your essay. Use them sparingly.
If my source quotes somebody else, how do I indicate this?
When you have a quotation within a quotation, handle it this way:
Indented original (article by David Fricke appearing in Rolling Stone):
Clapton [Eric] got the chills when he listened to that material recently. It was the first time he had done so in over fifteen years. "It got too much for me," he says. "Old memories started coming back; old issues raised their head. I think of the people in that band and what happened to them." (qtd. in Fricke 26)
Notice that this quotation is indented because it is longer than four lines. Therefore, no quotation marks are used at the beginning or the end. The quotation marks that appear at the end are the result of needing quotation marks around Clapton's remark, not because the entire paragraph is a quotation. Notice also that the first line is indented an additional five spaces. That's because it's the first sentence in the paragraph in the original. If you begin a quotation in mid-paragraph, there is no indention.
Clapton's name does not appear on your Works Cited page as he is not your source. Fricke is the source. Therefore, Fricke's name should appear. Since Clapton is speaking, however, use "qtd. in" (quoted in) for clarification.