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Citation Styles and Documentation: Avoid plagiarism by learning how to cite YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and scholarly journals
MLA, APA, CMS, CSE etc. If you have heard of these before, you have likely been asked to write a paper using them. What do these acronyms stand for?
Let’s talk about your different courses for a moment. You might have an English class, a psychology class, or a history class. Different courses are housed under different fields of study and different fields have different groups who meet to decide how scholarly writing in that field should be presented.
For example, English falls under the Modern Language Association, psychology falls under the American Psychological Association. These associations have manuals that explain how papers should be written in those disciplines.
CMS is called Chicago Manual of Style, which a history course might call for or CSE for Biology and other science courses.
The trick with these documentation styles is realizing you don’t have to memorize the style, you simply need to follow the guidelines, and use these guidelines as a reference. That means you might need to look this information up each time your write an academic paper.
Guidelines will specify how the paper should be laid out, such as spacing, margins, headers, page numbers, etc. It will also detail how to document any outside sources you used in the paper, such as in-text citations, footnotes, works cited pages or reference pages.
Knowing how to lay out the paper according to the documentation style is one thing, but knowing how to cite sources is quite another, and usually the most challenging for students.
Let’s walk through a practice source and look at how to break that source down to determine what kind of citation I need. We’ll use APA as an example.
The first thing you need to do when looking at a source, especially one you accessed online, is determine what type of source it is.
This source gives you some clues. It is a double-sided page, has an abstract or summary, a list of references, the title of the source, the main source may even have “journal of…” or looks like it has a specific audience of scholars. This is definitely an academic journal. You need to be able to differentiate between a journal, article in an online newspaper or a blog.
In order to cite the source correctly, you need to look up the type of source in a reference manual, so you can see what information is required in the citation. These manuals often contain model citations for you to follow.
For a journal article I need to be able to match the information in the citation example with the information for my particular source.
A citation for a journal article looks like this:
An MLA citation for this journal would have some differences, such as capitalized titles, quotation marks, etc., so you need to reference up your required documentation style to get it right.
Now you have to remember that if you borrowed any ideas from a source, like a YouTube video you watched, Twitter, Facebook or a class lecture, you have to cite that source in your paper.
How to cite YouTube
See how to cite other common sources, including: An interview; speeches and lectures, a painting, sculpture or photograph; films or movies; sound recordings