If you incorporate or refer to others' ideas or concepts in your paper, you must cite them and document their work. You must cite the sources you use to make statements of historical, statistical or scientific fact that are not common knowledge, and it's a good idea even if they are common knowledge. Sometimes it is difficult to be sure what counts as common knowledge. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if the material or statement can be questioned, if someone can argue with it. If so, you should document it. If you aren't sure if something counts as common knowledge or not, go ahead and document it to be safe. You must also cite sources when you use direct quotes, material from the source written word for word, and when you paraphrase what you have read by rephrasing or summarizing information from your source.
Citations in the humanities most often follow the format established by the Modern Language Association of America, a professional academic organization. The documentation consists of two main parts:
parenthetical references and
the Works Cited list.
MLA documentation uses parenthetical notation to cite sources within the text of your research paper (Gibaldi 184). (<-- Like that!) This means that when you use an author's ideas, quote material you've read, or paraphrase that material, you indicate its source in parentheses at the end of your sentence. For instance, I had to cite the first sentence of this paragraph because it contains information I got from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. The information in parentheses will tell the reader the author's last name and the page number where the original information used in your paper can be found. A reader will look at the author's last name and then refer to the Works Cited list at the end of your paper in order to obtain bibliographic information. You will find my source’s bibliographic information under "Gibaldi" in the Works Cited list at the end of this presentation. When you use parenthetical notation you do not have to create footnotes or endnotes for your research paper.
WHEN IN DOUBT, CITE
Otherwise, you might inadvertently plagiarize….
A documented quote in your paper about the development of Black feminist literary theory will look like this:
"In speaking about the current situation of Black women writers, it is important to remember that the existence of a feminist movement was an essential precondition to the growth of feminist literature, criticism, and women's studies, which focused at the beginning almost entirely upon investigations of literature" (Smith 170).
Note: There is no comma between the author's last name and the page number. Also, the parentheses always come after the quotation's end punctuation, but before the punctuation at the end of the sentence. Even if there is end punctuation within the quotation marks, like a question mark or an exclamation mark, it is followed by the parenthetical notation and then a period.
Allyn and Bacon
The relevant Chapter is 23.
The authors walk you through the process.
A paper that does not cite properly will automatically be graded “C” or lower; after all, satisfactory work should cite appropriately.
So get acquainted with your text!
Not everyone is born with style…
For a guide, see pp. 636-646
The guide is followed by a paper with sample citations.
From the earlier example: An interested reader will then go to "Smith" in your Works Cited list and find an article in an edited anthology. Try formatting it with this information:
Title of article: "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism.”
Title of anthology: The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory.
Editor of anthology: Elaine Showalter.
Smith, Barbara. "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism." The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory. Ed. Elaine Showalter. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. 168-185.
Another citation option is to use attribution, or to attribute material to an author within the text of your paper. Incorporate the author's name into your use of the quotation or information you are using and to put only the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
Barbara Smith reminds us in her well-known article, "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism," that when "speaking about the current situation of Black women writers, it is important to remember that the existence of a feminist movement was an essential precondition to the growth of feminist literature, criticism, and women's studies, which focused at the beginning almost entirely upon investigations of literature" (170).
Parenthetical notation may require a bit of troubleshooting occasionally
SAME LAST NAME:
If you use two authors with the same last name, you must also indicate the initial of their first name in the parentheses: (B. Smith 170), for instance.
If you are given no author at all, choose a word from the title of the source to use in the parentheses and underline or punctuate it appropriately: ("Toward" 170), for instance.
SAME AUTHOR, MULTIPLE WORKS:
If you use more than one work by the same author, the author name must be accompanied by a word from the title of the source you are referring to: (Smith, "Toward" 170), for instance.
If you use electronic sources, you often must work with whatever information is provided at the online site. When possible use: (Author page#) or (Title page#). If no page numbers are provided, use paragraph numbers instead: (Author par.#) or (Title par.#).
The Works Cited list is basically the bibliography for your paper, but it includes only the sources that you parenthetically cite in your paper. The Works Cited list is alphabetized by author's last name and begins on a fresh sheet of paper at the end of your research paper. If there are sources you have read but did not specifically use in your paper, you may include them in a Works Consulted list following the Works Cited list.
Basic Information in Citations:
BASIC BOOK CITATION:
Author's Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date.
BASIC PERIODICAL CITATION:
Author's Last Name, First Name. "Article title: subtitle." Periodical Title volume (year): page numbers.
BASIC SOFTWARE CITATION:
Author's Last Name, First Name. "Article title." Publication Title publication information. Database. CD-ROM. Database provider. Date of publication.
BASIC ONLINE CITATION:
Author's Last Name, First Name. "Article title." Publication Title publication information. Database. Online. Computer service. Date of access.
Citation specifics and troubleshooting:
The citations you will probably use the most will be for: