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VTCC: Citations

What needs to be cited

As you’ve probably figured out by this point, erring on the side of caution and citing your sources is usually the best path to follow, especially when you’re quoting directly, paraphrasing someone else’s ideas, or aren’t sure if the information that you’re using should be considered “common knowledge.”  Just as a quick refresher, watch this brief (1:05 minutes) video about what should be cited.

 

 

Same information, several styles

Why are there so many citation styles

In your research, you may have noticed in one bibliography a journal title may be italicized and in another bibliography, the journal title isn't italicized. Additionally in-text citations may appear differently in the text, sometimes there are numbers and sometimes there are names. Why is this?  The answer is complicated but it boils down to how each discipline communicates within itself.  Think of it like tickets, you can't use a sports ticket to board an airplane but they are both types of tickets, having some of the same information - time, date, seat, and price.  So each citation style is like a different type of ticket but you need to use the right one to join the conversation.  This is why your English professor will require MLA and one of your science classes may require APA. 

While these citation styles look different, they contain the same key pieces of information that will direct you to find the original source.

You can find information about other citation styles in this guide Purdue Owl and Citation Fox provide good example of citation formats. While some databases will provide ready made citations, it would be wise to double check these formats with the official citation guide.

Citation sources

You have seen citations in Wikipedia, books, and journal articles, but how can they help you besides avoiding plagiarism?  Think about the bibliography as a giant map of the topic information world. The citations give you exact directions to each point on this map. Each citation includes key pieces of information to guide you to the source you want to find.  Just like some maps indicate what are cities or  mountains or rivers, the citation will tell you what kind of source you will be heading to (e.g. newspaper, book, online article, website, etc.).  

Learning how to read the citations will not only enable you to find your source quickly but also determine if it is a source you want to use. So if you are looking for scholarly articles and all the bibliography includes are newspapers and websites, you will know not to bother searching for those sources.   
 
Looking at the graphics below, you will notice some similarities and differences and other key points to determine the type of source that was cited.
 

Although the following citations are APA citation style and may not look like the format you will use for your discipline or assignment, the information will be the same.

Book citation

book citation

Book citations will have author, title, date of publication and place of publication and the publisher.

Article citation

article citation

An article citation will contain the article title, author and date of publication. It will also contain the journal title and the date, volume, issue and pages.

Book chapter citation

book chapter citation

There is an easy way to tell the difference between an essay or book chapter and a journal article. A book chapter or essay will have the publisher and the place of publication listed. A journal article will not have a place of publication but will have the volume, issue and page numbers listed. An essay or chapter in a book will list the title along with the chapter author and page numbers, plus the book title and the authors or editors of the book.

Article with DOI

article with DOI citation

digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique code assigned to articles to identify them (think of a fingerprint) and provide a permanent link to their location on the internet. Publishers assign the DOI codes when articles are published. In APA format, when a DOI code is available, you must include it as part of the citation. The DOI code is generally listed on the first page of the article. If you have a DOI code and want to find the article it is assigned to, there are a few ways to get to that article. Often DOIs are hyperlinked, so you can simply click them to get to the article. Otherwise, use the search tool linked on the library's home page under the Search menu. (Note: if you are off-campus, you will want to make sure you have logged into the Off-Campus Sign In.