NOTES ON USE AND CITATION OF
increasing availability of so many types of information and sources
online, the rules for appropriate citation of sources may be less clear
than in the old days of paper. Here are some guidelines
two important questions:
- WHEN do I need to cite sources?
- HOW do I cite sources?
I. WHEN to cite:
is one of the most important questions in scholarly work.
While there are some gray areas around the edges, the
underlying principles are straightforward:
to adhere to these principles appropriately can constitute plagiarism
(taking credit for words or ideas not your own) -- the most serious
The thresholds for what must be cited can be ambiguous. For
example, you do
not need, generally, to cite a supporting reference for statements of
'common knowledge' (e.g., that the earth is round -- unless,
say, you were analyzing the history of this understanding...). You do
not need to cite a short, common phrase (like 'common knowledge') as a
quotation, even though someone must have used it first. You
must use your (informed) judgment. But, if you're unsure, ask
or go ahead and cite source!
your work incorporates ideas, claims, evidence, data, or
that you've drawn from some other source, then you must cite that
- If you use passages of prose from another source
(including your own writing!), such quotes must be identified and the
- This includes words, images, 'facts' from websites even if they are in the public
domain. You are free to use images (for example)
from wikimedia -- but it is NOT appropriate to use them without
acknowledging who created them and where you got them.
II. HOW to cite:
basic principle here is straightforward. Your citation of a
source should allow your reader to locate that source easily
However, the particulars of format, what information should
provided, etc. are trickier than they used to be when cited work was
almost always published on paper. SO, here are some
- FORMAT FOR REFERENCE: There are lots of varying
here, even within the world of scholarly work. Some use
footnotes, some use endnotes, some insert author and date in text with
a 'references cited' section at the end, etc. I ask you to choose a standard and use it
The easiest approach, if this is new to you, might
look at a scholarly publication (we'll be reading a variety of them),
and imitate its style.
- INFORMATION TO INCLUDED IN A CITATION:
As noted above, the main principle is that I should be able to locate
the source being cited without trouble -- but the info you need to give
to make that possible will vary,
depending on nature of source:
A COUPLE OF ADDITIONAL THINGS:
- If you're citing a formal publication -- a paper in
scholarly journal, a book, an article in a generally available magazine
-- it's usually appropriate and adequate to include:
- author's name (always)
- year of
publication (always) and month/issue if available
- title of the work (with volume and page numbers if part
of a journal or larger work)
- title of the including work (journal, magazine, book if
it's an essay or chapter).
- YOU SHOULD GIVE THIS INFO EVEN IF YOU READ THE WORK
- HOWEVER, it is NOT
necessary to give the date you accessed in online
or the name of the online data-base through which you found it; in
fact, these are irrelevant. for 'real' publications
- Many published objects now acquire something called a
'Digital Object Identifier' or DOI. You should get in the
habitat of citing this when available; eventually DOI alone will be
adequate, but it's not yet considered so.
stable 'web-only' stuff can be trickier.
You should attempt
include the same basic information -- an author (which might be an
organization) name, a title, date of publicaton, publishing entity --
but these aren't always identifiable. What you MUST give are two
- The URL ('Uniform
Resource Locator' -- what appears in the address line of your
browser). Note, again, that URL is NOT required for journals, books,
even if you find them online, but you can use them IN ADDITION to the
stuff listed above if it makes you happy.
- For web-only stuff that is potentially 'fluid' (general
websites, things can change, like wikipedia articles), then the DATE
YOU ACCESSED THE INFORMATION, DOES become necessary (and your use of
such information should recognize it's impermanence and ambiguity!)
are a few examples of full citations for different types of sources and
in different formats -- all acceptable -- just to give you a sense:
- A 'references cited' list is not necessarily the same as a
'bibliography'. The latter may include sources pertinent to
writing even if you don't make explicit and direct use of them.
You MUST give full references for things you cite; a bibliography
an option (unless specifically requested).
- It's fine to
incorporate hyperlinks directly in digital papers produced for class,
but this doesn't remove the obligation to provide explicit
citation as discussed here.
S. J., and J. M. Bond. 2009. Sustainability and Resilience in
Prehistoric North Atlantic Britain: The Importance of a Mixed
Paleoeconomic System. Journal of the North Atlantic 2:33–50. doi:
Crosby, A. W. Germs, Seeds
& Animals: Studies in Ecological History. ME Sharpe
Wright, Karen. 1998. “Empires in
the Dust.” Discover (March): 94–99.
1. Anon. Atlas of the Biosphere.
2010. Available at: http://www.sage.wisc.edu/atlas/index.php. Accessed
September 18, 2010.
Forest Clearing, Bolivia.” Text.Article, December 22, 2008.
Managing bibliographic and citation information.
you don't have to do this to meet expectations listed above, I'd
recommend that you think about getting and using one of the softwared tools available for managing
your reference/bibliographic resources. I use a very powerful,
easy-to-use, and FREE (open-source) reference management package called ZOTERO.
Zotero is good at
'capturing' reference information from on-line material and at
generating in-text citations and references cited lists and
bibliographies. You can also use it to store materials
full pdf's of source) in the cloud and synchronize your database across
-- KW, Feb 2017