Cite it Right: Or I wish APA and MLA Were the Same

Why citing is important?

The proper acknowledgement of sources might seem like a no-brainer; as indeed it should; however, citations are not used simply to avoid plagiarism; they have a fundamental role: to discover truth by building on previous discoveries.

The painting above by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) exemplifies the metaphor of dwarfs, standing on the shoulders (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes). In other words, we are the dwarfs in the painting, “but dwarfs who stand on the shoulders of those giants, small though we are, we sometimes manage to see farther on the horizon than they” (Eco, 1980, p. 93). Therefore, citing is acknowledging the research that has laid the groundwork to build your own research, which sometimes manages to produce new findings–to see farther.

So, what is a citation?

A citation is a formal reference to a source that you consulted and obtained information from while writing your research paper. Hence, a citation is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. There are different ways of citing sources, the set of rules that dictates how to cite your sources is a citation style.

The main citation styles based on wide-use are: (Yale, n.d.).

APA: American Psychological Association

  • Used in the Social Sciences: Education, Psychology, Business, etc.
  • Author-date citation style.
  • Emphasizes dates (years) of publication, reflecting the belief that current research, knowledge and theories has greater value, than does past scholarship.

MLA: Modern Language Association style  

  • Used in the humanities, for example, English Studies, Art, Literature, and Theater.
  • Author-page citation style.
  • Emphasizes pages because humanities research highlights how one piece of writing influences another. MLA’s author-page style allows scholars to track down easily the exact sentences you are analyzing.

Chicago/Turabian style

  • Used in the social sciences, for example, History, Anthropology
  • Two basic documentation systems: (1) notes and bibliography and (2) author-date
  • Emphasizes ease of reading, the primary advantages of using footnotes are simplicity and concision. Using footnotes instead of parenthetical author-date information allows the reader to focus on the evidence, instead of being distracted by the publication information about that evidence.

When to Cite (Ohio State University Libraries, n.d.).

Cite when you quote: if you cite word-by-word what an author has already written, you must use quotation marks around those words and give credit to the original author

Cite when you paraphrase or summarize: when you restate in your own words and tone what somebody else has said. Paraphrasing requires a good understanding of the original passage; its purpose is to make information clear in the conversation different sources and having with each other.

Cite when information is highly debatable: when information is controversial, politicized, or numerical you should always provide a citation.

Where can I find help?

MHC Libraries created a citation guide where you can find citation examples, sample papers, and video tutorials to three major citation styles:  APA, MLA, and Chicago.

Access: MHC Library Guide > Citation Guide

References

Eco, U. (1980). The Name of the Rose. Italy: Harcourt

Ohio State University Libraries. (n.d.). When to cite. Retrieved from https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/when-to-cite/

Yale, (n.d.).  Why are there different citation styles? Retrieved from https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/writing/using-sources/principles-citing-sources/why-are-there-different-citation-styles

Published by

Adrian Castillo

Hello! I am the instruction librarian and business liaison of Vera Bracken Library. Feel free to contact me at dcastillo@mhc.ab.ca

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