Yeah, What She Said: Citing Source Material

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Are you ever confused as to how you're supposed to cite your sources? Or why you use one style in your psychology class and another in your writing course? Use this guide to clarify what style of citation you should use and why. This is meant as a supplement to your Diana Hacker's A Writer's Reference. Therein you will find citation examples.

There are three citation styles: Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago Manual Style (CMS) and American Psychological Association (APA). At first glance, they are similar, but they differ because they are discipline specific. Depending on the field of study, there is a particular relationship between the writer (you) and the source material. Let me elaborate:

MLA
First-Year Writing, English Literature and some Liberal Arts instructors will require you to use MLA in-text citations. MLA style is preferred in most Humanities courses. An MLA writer engages explicitly with source material and emphasizes analysis of specific points to support an argument. Because the relationship between the MLA writer and the source material requires specific reference to passages, MLA in-text citations are effective. Sometimes, MLA writers may footnote information if they want to further elaborate on a point. An MLA paper is accompanied by a bibliography that is formatted using the MLA style; it includes all sources to which the author — you — referred.

CMS 
History and Art History instructors may require that you use CMS. The relationship between the writer and the text is essentially the same with CMS and MLA. So, it may be appropriate to use MLA in an art history or history course (check with your instructor). CMS allows an author to cite all information in CMS footnotes or endnotes. CMS writers do not use in-text citations. Thus, a secondary conversation can occur at the bottom of the page. The footnotes can, for instance, explain the history of the research or the intricacies of another author’s argument. A CMS paper is accompanied by a bibliography that is formatted using CMS; it includes all sources to which the author — you — referred.

APA
Sociology, Education and Psychology instructors will require you to use APA in-text citations. An APA writer privileges two writing processes: 1) synthesizing a body of research — summarizing and comparing and contrasting the authors' arguments; and 2) paraphrasing — translating the gist of another author's argument and conclusion into your words. An APA author may use source material to build his or her argument or to support a point, and the format of APA in-text citations makes it easy for the author to integrate a paraphrased synthesis of previous research. An APA paper is accompanied by a bibliography formatted using the APA style; it only includes the sources cited in the text.

IF YOU'RE UNSURE ABOUT WHAT CITATION STYLE YOU SHOULD USE, ASK YOUR INSRUCTOR.

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Christa DiMarco, Director of Writing
cdimarco@uarts.edu
215-717-6512