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Argumentative Essays: How to cite sources

Why Cite Sources

Once you have located and read an adequate number of sources, incorporated ideas from your reading with your own understanding of the topic, and presented your analysis of your topic in a research paper, it is essential to cite the sources and you must use the proper bibliographic format to do so.

The main reason for citing your sources is to give credit to those authors whose ideas you used in your research. Even when you do not quote directly from another work, if reading that source contributed to the ideas presented in your paper, you must give the authors proper credit by including their work in your bibliography. Citing your sources allows readers of your work to easily find the sources to which you've referred.

If you do not cite the sources upon which your research is based, you will be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is using the ideas and writings of others and representing them as your own. Even if you do not copy another source word-for-word, but rather rephrase the source without attributing it to the original author by including a citation, you are guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic standards and is punishable with a failing grade, possible expulsion from the institution, and may subject you to ostracism by your peers. The increasing availability of electronic information has unfortunately made it easy to copy another author's works.

(The text in this box was created by Eric Brenner)

 

"Works Cited" or "References" vs. "Bibliography"

The most common way to cite sources is to use a "Works Cited" or "References" list at the end of your research paper. "Works Cited" is the title of your list of citations when using the MLA (Modern Language Association) format; the title "References" is used when citing sources using APA (American Psychological Association) style. The list includes a citation for each of the sources you used to write your paper. The citations are formatted in a consistent style according to whichever citation format is used. Many instructors specify which format they prefer; some leave it up to the students as long as they maintain one consistent format.

A "Bibliography" is not the same as a "Works Cited" or "References" list. In your "Works Cited" or "References" you only list items you have actually cited in your paper. In a "Bibliography" you list all of the material you may have consulted in preparing your essay, whether or not you have actually cited the work. A "Bibliography" may include any sources related to the topic of the research paper.

The list of all citations is commonly organized in a single alphabetical list. Each different type of source--book, magazine article, journal article, newspaper article, article from a reference book, World Wide Web page--has a precise format that is specified by the given format (MLA, APA or other).

(The text in this box was created by Eric Brenner)

Legal Citation Formats: MLA, APA, Turabian Style Hints (from LexisNexis)

Cases
MLA
Case title, U.S. Reports citation, page numbers, docket number, name of the court, year of decision, Internet address, and date of accessing the site.
Example:
Fullilove v. Klutznick. 448 U.S. 448. 448-554. No. 78-1007. US Supreme Court. 1980. Online. LexisNexis® Academic. (11 Feb. 2010).

APA
Case title, U.S. Reports citation, year of decision, and Internet address.
Example:
Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980) [Online] Retrieved from http://www.lexisnexis.com/us/lnacademic.

Turabian
Case Name, Reports Citation (Year of Decision) LexisNexis main URL (accessed date for Turabian).
Example:
Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980). Accessed 13 February 2010; available from LexisNexis Academic http://www.lexisnexis.com/us/lnacademic

Codes
MLA
Title number, statute book of the U.S. Code. section. year. publication medium, name of computer service, and date of access.
Example:
42 US Code. Sec. 405. 1998. Online. LexisNexis® Academic. 13 February 2010.

APA
Act or Section Name, Abbreviated Citation et seq. (Edition year of the Code) Retrieved date from LexisNexis Academic database.
Example:
Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §2301 et seq. (2006). Retrieved 13 February 2010 from LexisNexis Academic database.

Turabian
Act or Section Name. U.S. Code. Year. Vol(Which is really title number, but Turabian style forces you to use Volume), section number. Accessed date; available from LexisNexis Academic
Example:
Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act. U.S. code. 1998. Vol 20, sec. 2301. Accessed 24 March 2005; available from LexisNexis Academic

Annotated Bibliography

Automated Bibliography Formatting

There are quite a number of free automated citation generators available on the Web; for example:

easybib -- free only for MLA citation

bibme -- free APA, MLA and Chicago citation

KnightCite -- free APA, MLA and Chicago citation

Note: always check for accuracy.