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- Q: Someone told me I need to use "citation," what is that and why do I have to do it?
- Q: I don't want to cite my sources, it takes too long.
- Q: Okay, I'll do it. Is there some special way I should format it?
- Q: I paraphrased from my source and so I don't have to use citation, everyone knows that.
- Q: I'm in high school and no one's ever taught me anything about citation before, so I'm absolved of using it!
- Q: I have a piece I didn't write myself, but I think it's okay for me to repost it here. How should I cite this?
- MLA citation examples
Q: Someone told me I need to use "citation," what is that and why do I have to do it?
Proper citation of research sources is a very important part of any writing. If that sentence didn't make a lot of sense, let me break it down for you.
Citation = Givin props to yer peeps.
For a variety of ethical and practical reasons, it is very important to let your readers know that what you're writing may not be your own work and may be the result of someone else's effort.
Q: I don't want to cite my sources, it takes too long.
That's really more of a statement, not a question, but I'll answer it anyway. Not including citation means you are plagiarizing. Plagiarism is bad and will result in your write up being removed, possibly with penalty if you are a repeat offender.
Q: Okay, I'll do it. Is there some special way I should format it?
Like any other thing that must be done, there are rules and protocols that need to be followed, so that the information is easily understood by all. Unfortunately, to muddy the waters a little, there is no one definitive method. There are several "Styles" of citation that are more or less popular depending on where you publish, where or when you attended school, or what type of publication it is or subject you?re writing on. Popular choices are MLA, APA, AMA, Turabian and Chicago Style.
Q: I paraphrased from my source and so I don't have to use citation, everyone knows that.
Again, not a question, but it deserves addressing as I've heard it mentioned several times. Not needing citation for paraphrasing is a common myth, and is completely false. Any use of material that is not your own original work, whether it is copied word for word, paraphrased, or simply rearranged, must be cited. End of story.
Q: I'm in high school and no one's ever taught me anything about citation before, so I'm absolved of using it!
I find this difficult to believe, as many High school composition classes require citation. However, primary schools aren't quite what they used to be and I'm willing to admit that you may never have received instruction on this topic, especially when one considers that E2 is an international community and primary curriculum is hardly universal. Having said that, ignorance is no excuse for lack of compliance. Besides, if you've read this far, you are no longer ignorant of the requirement.
Q: I have a piece I didn't write myself, but I think it's okay
for me to repost it here. How should I cite this?
- The work is not and never was copyrighted.
Documents published by the U.S. federal government are generally not copyrighted; anyone can republish them as long as the source is cited. Other sites (state governments, non-profit orgs) may allow the free copying of their materials; however, don't ever assume that just because you don't see a copyright notice on a site, it isn't copyrighted. Always assume you need permission unless you see something stating otherwise.
- The work has fallen out of copyright and is now in the public
In general, materials written before 1927 have fallen into the public domain and can be freely copied by anyone. However, this isn't always the case; make sure nobody's updated the copyright before you repost it; if you're working with a book, check the copyright page for notices.
- You have gained permission from the author.
In this modern age of email, most authors are contactable. See something cool? Don't just post it -- ask the author first. If the article's been reprinted elsewhere on the web, and you send the author a polite message, chances are they'll give you permission to use their work. Make sure you emphasize that E2 is a noncommercial site -- nobody's trying to make a buck off their labors.
But if they turn you down, don't get upset, and don't just post the piece anyway, assuming they'll never know the difference. Permission is everything here. It's like the difference between knocking on a stranger's door and asking to use their phone, and just jimmying the lock and going on in to use it when you find they're not at home. At best using other people's writing without permission is rude; at worst it's a crime that could get E2 sued.
- (I know, I said '3', but DMCA rules force me to include this ... ) You intend to ignore legitimate copyrights and are well aware that your writeup can be removed from E2 at any time and for any reason.
Once you're sure it really is kosher to repost the piece, you need to cite it so that our fearless admins won't notice that the piece has appeared elsewhere, assume it's plagiarsim, and nuke it without a second glance. Using regular citations doesn't work here, because those imply you've put the information from your sources into your own words; if you're copying someone else's writing in its entirety, you need to make that clear.
If the piece is in the public domain, add a citation like this:
Public domain text taken from http://www.wherever.org/
If you have permission from an author, or if a site gives global reproduction-with-citation permission, put a citation, right at the beginning of the writeup, that says something like:
If you decide that all that permission jazz is too complicated, annoying, or you simply don't recognize copyrighting information because everything should be free and we should all live like savages in mud huts, AND you are aware of the consequences of posting copyrighted information as detailed in the preceding item #4 then you still need to include the following at the top of the write up, before the cut and pasted material.
The following text is reproduced here without permission of the copyright holder. The original author is Mr. John Q. Whoever and this text was copied directly from www.wherever.org
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th ed., by Joseph Gibaldi.
call number: Ref LB2369 .G53 1999b
The Modern Language Association (MLA) Style is widely used for identifying research sources. In MLA style you briefly credit sources with parenthetical citations in the text of your paper, and give the complete description of each source in your Works Cited list. The Works Cited list, or Bibliography, is a list of all the sources used in your paper, arranged alphabetically by author's last name, or when there is no author, by the first word of the title (except A, An or The).
The following examples are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th ed., by Joseph Gibaldi. (Ref LB2369 .G53 1999b)
Author. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
Author of Article.(if given) "Article Title." Title of Book. City
of Publication: Publisher, Year.
Author or Editor. Title of Set. Total number of vols. City
of Publication: Publisher, Year.
POEM or SHORT STORY in an ANTHOLOGY
Author of Story. "Title of Story." Title of Book. Name of Editor.
City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page numbers of the story.
Author. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine Date: Page(s).
Author. "Title of Article." Name of Newspaper Date, edition: Page(s).
SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLES
Author. "Title of Article." Title of Journal volume number (Year): Pages.
"Title of Episode or Segment." Credit (Performer or author). Title of Program.
Name of Network. Call letters (if any), City of Local Station (if any).
VIDEOTAPES, DVDs, LASERDISCS
Title. Director, Producer, and/or Writers. Medium. Distributor, Year.
Person Interviewed. Type of interview (personal or telephone). Date.
WEB SITE -- Professional or Personal
Creator's name (if given). Web Page Title. URL. Institution or organization. Date
of access .
Online Service: INFOTRAC
Author's name (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Magazine Date
of Publication: Pages. Name of Database. InfoTrac. Library Name.
Date of Access .
Author's name (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Newspaper (State)
Date of Publication: Pages. NewsBank NewsFile. Library Name.
Date of Access (http://infoweb.newsbank.com/).
Author's name (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Newspaper
Date of Publication. Date of Access .
Author's name (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Magazine
Date of Publication. Date of Access .
Sender's Name. "Title." (from Subject line) E-mail to the author. Date of message.
Writer's Name. "Title of Message." (from Subject line) Online posting.
Date of Message. Name of Discussion Group/List. Date of access
(URL of Group's Internet Site, or E-mail Address of List Moderator).