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

Google it: Five Tips to Search like a Pro

light smartphone macbook mockup
Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

Just “Google it”— often friendly disputes about factual matters will end up with that phrase. We have grown so familiar with the search engine, and the way it resolves our everyday questions. Yet we have forgotten the amazing features up its sleeve.

Here is a brief overview of the most useful Google search tips:

1. Search within a website

The search engines of most websites are poor. Instead, use Google’s site or domain limiter to search within a single website. For example, searching with site:cbc.ca followed by a search term. In other words, site:example.com text goes here

2. Find influential papers

Some papers are of central importance to a research topic, often because they report a major breakthrough, or theories that have an accepted validity among the scholarly community.  At some point in your student life, you will be required to find influential or seminal papers. Fortunately, Google offers a database devoted only to scholarly papers, called Google Scholar, which allows you to track how often and how recently a paper is cited in other scholarly literature.  Simply look for “Cited by”.

3. Find similar websites

Quality research demands synthesis—combining ideas from a number of sources to form a coherent whole. For this reason, if you found something you really like online, try your best to find similar websites. Simply type in “related:” in front of a web address, you already know. For example, related:adidas.ca., without a space between words. This Google search technique is especially useful when conducting market research.

4. The Power of the Asterisk

Like the blank tile in Scrabble, the asterisk * works as a placeholder within searches. Use it when your cunning memory prevents you from recalling a word, or parts of a word. For example, a search for child* will search for child, but also childhood, children, and any other word which starts with child.

5. Exact Phrase

This is the simplest way to specify that you only want websites—where the visible body text—exactly matches the sequence of words enclosed in quotation marks. For example, “Access to Information Act, RSC 1985, c A-1”. Use this search technique to find fragments from texts, or exact titles.

Remember…

All these tips solely focus on discovering information, yet this is a tiny part of the research process. If you want to learn more about research, this guide is for you!

black samsung tablet display google browser on screen
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

Bibliography

Gibbs, Samuel. (2016, January 15). How to use search like a pro: 10 tips and tricks for Google and beyond. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.thegaurdian.com/technology/2016/jan/15/how-to-use-search-like-a-pro-10-tips-and-tricks-for-google-and-beyond

Google LLC. (2019). How to search on Google. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/134479?h1+en

Stetson University. (2018). Google Advanced Search & Google Shortcuts. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://guides.stetson.edu/c.php?g=431278&p=2942376