Citing Sources: Building your Reference List

Students often feel overwhelmed by the thought of creating the list of references that commonly appears at the end of the paper. Often that’s because the student has waited until the end to build it, has just finished their paper, and hasn’t taken the steps needed to make building the reference list – if not easy – at least less frustrating. Read on to find out how to make building a reference list easier.
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Citing Sources: When do I have to cite?

In over a decade of teaching, the #1 reason I find for student plagiarism is students not understanding¬†when¬†to cite a source. In this post, I’m going to get right to the point and tell you exactly when you need to cite.
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Research More Efficiently: Mine Your Sources

You’ve been assigned a research paper and shown how to use the library database. You’ve typed in your search terms and gotten results, but have one of two problems:

  1. You have a lot of results – possibly tens of thousands – and you don’t know how to figure out which authors or publications are important.
  2. You got very few results and don’t know where to go from here.

One tactic you can apply is to mine your sources. Read on to find out what that means.
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Avoid Plagiarism: Take Good Notes

Most students have heard of plagiarism, and most also understand that plagiarism can have serious academic consequences (more about plagiarism in a later blog post). Many students, however, don’t have a good grasp of how to avoid plagiarizing even when they are trying not to. One strategy you can use is to take good notes while you are conducting your research.

How can you use note-taking to reduce your risk of plagiarism?

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Database Search Basics

You have a paper or project to do, and your teacher wants you to include academic “research.” In this post, I’ll show you some tips and tricks for getting the most out of the time you spend. A lot of students find the mechanics of database research to be overwhelming–by the end of this post, you should feel more confident.

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Pointing to Each Other: Citation Basics

In the last post in this series (Citing Sources: Why Do We Do It?), I explained why we cite our sources as academics. In this post, I’m focusing on how we cite sources, but in a broad sense: what elements are common to all citation styles?

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, has counted the number of different citation styles that exist–let’s just say that there are a LOT. Fortunately, you don’t need to know them all; what you need to know is (1) what style your teacher wants and (2) what style is used in your academic discipline. Biologists use a different style than the English department.

Many students in my classes are familiar with MLA, the citation style of the Modern Language Association, or APA, the style of the American Psychological Association. There’s also the Chicago Manual of Style (usually just called “Chicago”) or Turabian or ASA . . . Again, you don’t need to know them all. Just know that they are out there, and that you can find reference books for each that tell you how to organize your citation material.

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