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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Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 5

The Odds and Ends

This is the last post in the series, and I’ll be honest – this one is the odds and ends that didn’t fit elsewhere 🙂

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Citing Sources: Why Do We Do It?

There are few things in academic writing that frustrate (or even terrify) students more than (1) citing sources and (2) avoiding plagiarism. The two are closely related. I will discuss plagiarism in detail in later posts devoted to paraphrase, summary, and quotations. In this post, we’re going to explore the rationale behind citing sources: why do we do it?

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Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 4

On Using Your Words the Wrong Way

You may have seen, or even been given, lists of words and phrases that students commonly misuse. Common example include to/too/two and there/their/they’re. Well, you will see these listed in the first section, below, but the professors that responded to my call for errors gave me so much more . . .

Homophones and homonyms, misuse, and misspellings

The example in the opening paragraph refers to misuse that occurs because words sound alike. Often, these are homophones or homonyms. Homophones are words that sound the same by have different meanings, and homonyms are words with the same spelling or sound, but not the same meaning. (Don’t worry: there won’t be a quiz.) Here’s a list of words that students have been getting wrong for decades:

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How is College Writing Different?

In one of my earliest blog posts, Learning to Write Well: Why Bother?, I wrote that you will likely need to be able to write effectively throughout your life, whether that’s for professional or personal reasons. Writing for college classes, however, is a very specific type of writing that requires a specific skill set. A lot of students come into college missing at least some of these skills. In a later post, I will talk about imposter syndrome and why students enter college with varying levels of preparation, but for now, just know that a lot of students enter college these days without the skills they need to write a successful college paper. That’s literally the reason this blog exists.

Not knowing what’s expected of your academic writing in college is not a measure of intelligence; it is a measure of preparedness and understanding.

So let’s get started.

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Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 3

On Racist, Ableist, and Sexist Language

This post builds on Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing (Part 2)

For this series of posts, I’m going to focus on words, phrases, and other writing habits that students should avoid. Fifty-seven college teachers across multiple disciplines shared the things that they commonly see in college papers that drive them crazy, make them worry about their students’ skills, and just in general signal that the student doesn’t yet have a good handle on how to write well in a college setting.

You know that old adage: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? The implication is not just that we should keep our mouths shut if we don’t have something nice to say. What’s implied here is that we should do better, and not be the types of people who go around being rude, mean, and in general embarrassing to the people that raised us.

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Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 2

On Dictionary Definitions and High-Falutin’ Words

This post builds on Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing (Part 1).

For this series of posts, I’m going to focus on words, phrases, and other writing habits that students should avoid. Fifty-seven college teachers across multiple disciplines shared the things that they commonly see in college papers that drive them crazy, make them worry about their students’ skills, and just in general signal that the student doesn’t yet have a good handle on how to write well in a college setting.

Students often perceive academic writing to have a sort of stilted, high-falutin’ tone that they then try to emulate in an effort to “sound smart.” It’s true that some academic writing has a tone that can charitably be called “dense,” but it’s also true that (1) tone varies by discipline and (2) over time and (3) most teachers don’t expect students to be able to fluently use that type of academic tone in their first years of college, even when it is appropriate for the discipline.

Part 2 focuses on mistakes that I suspect are artifacts of students trying to “sound smart,” but that that end up negatively affecting their grades.

Continue reading Cringeworthy: Bad Writing Habits that Hurt your College Writing, Part 2