Any time an idea is borrowed from a source—like a newspaper article, a YouTube video, a tweet, or a class lecture—that source needs to be cited. But that's not all. The way citations are written is also important. Not only are there different citation formats to follow, like APA or MLA, but the citation of different source types, whether a blog post or a speech or a photograph, also vary, even if just slightly, e.g. capitalization. In this video, English instructor Renee Swensen explains citation styles and documentation, essential knowledge for any writer to have in order to avoid plagiarism. Watch the video:
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:
Author. (year of publication). Title of article. Title of Academic Journal. Volume (Issue), pages.
Author’s last name and initials, the year it was published, the title of the articles (not in capital letters), the title of the academic journal italicized, the volume number, the issue number in parentheses, and the page numbers. Luckily, I don’t have to memorize all this, just match my source with this sample.
The author of the article is Cherrier, H. The year, (2006). The title is consumer identify and moral obligations in non-plastic bag consumption: a dialectal perspective. The journal title is International Journal of Consumer Studies, the volume is 30 and the issue is (5), with the page numbers 515-523.
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
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx
Last name, First name. OR Username. "Title of Video." Title of Site. Name of institution or publisher, Day Month Year of publication. Medium. Day Month Year of access.
Just remember that you need to take the time to get your citations right to avoid plagiarism.
See how to cite other common sources, including: An interview; speeches and lectures, a painting, sculpture or photograph; films or movies; sound recordings