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ENGL 1158--Moersen Spring 2022: Citation Help

Introductory guide to library research resources and services

What Is a Citation?

As a researcher or reader, a citation is the information needed to locate the article (or book) you are interested in reading. As a writer, a citation is the information necessary to help verify your work. Your credibility as a writer and research can be seriously harmed by poor citation style. 

For articles from a database, a complete citation generally includes:

·         The author's name

·         The title of the article

·         The name of the magazine or journal in which it is located

·         The volume number of the magazine or journal (and sometimes the issue number)

·         The page numbers on which the article is located

·         The date when the article was published

Example:    

Hagen, Patricia L., and Thomas W. Zelman. "'We Were Never on the Scene of the Crime':

     Eavan Boland's Repossession of History." Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 37, no. 4, 1991,

     pp. 442-453, InfoTrac Student Edition, doi:10.5465/amle.2013.0337. 
Accessed 19 Mar. 2016. 

For books, a complete citation generally includes:

·         The author's name

·         The title of the book

·         The publication date

·         The book's publisher

Example: 

Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. Penguin Press, 2013. 

Thanks to Oregon State University librarians for allowing me to use and embellish on their materials. 

Citation Help

MLA Style is the preferred style guide for researchers working in many humanities disciplines, but most especially literature. It is also the most commonly taught citation style in the world. 

Aside from purchasing a copy of the MLA Handbook, 8th edition, reading it, learning it, and living with it; there are a couple of other sources that could help you out when writing papers in MLA. Remember: the definitive answer to any MLA style question is in the Handbook. No website or outside help is ever as correct as the original source. 
But, it can be hard to always have your own copy around, so here are a few other sources that are definitive, but quick and helpful: 

During a non-pandemic semester, the Earl K. Long Library has copies on Reserve you can use in the library and check out for 3 hours at a time. But in the mean time, try 

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab MLA guide

Zotero--a free browser plugin that can help you collect and store your research information and transform it into a bibliography in many styles including the MLA. 

Zotero allows you to start gathering research immediately. Go to Zotero.org and use the Download button to get the latest version. You will want to register for a Zotero account and  login so you can sync your account and participate in groups, if you choose. Be sure to also add the your plugin of choice for word processing--Word or LibreOffice. Whenever  you update your version of Zotero, please also update your word processor plugin--they may not be compatible otherwise.

                         Quick Start Guide                                                                                              Support Guide (all topics)

Don't forget that MS Word also has a tab on the ribbon for 'References'. Right now, it has the MLA 7th edition on it. It is mostly the same as the 8th, with some changes for digital items. Check with your professor if he/she has a preference that you work with the 7th or 8th editions, 
and always follow your instructor's preference for citation. Word.

Practice MLA Style

Learning the basics of MLA style doesn't have to be hard, in fact, it can be as easy as playing a game...here are a few sites I recommend for learning MLA basics the easy way. As of this writing, both the 7th and 8th editions of the MLA Handbook are in common use. Remember: for any truly difficult questions, the best answers always appear in the MLA Handbook! 

 

MLA Citation game 7th edition (drag & drop)

MLA Citation game 7th edition (clicks)

MLA Citation game, 8th edition (drag & drop 2)

Plagiarism

Plagiarism (from the Latin for kidnapping, plagium) is a temptation for writers. Avoiding plagiarism is part of  your responsibility as a student, a writer, and a reader. 

What Is Plagiarism?

It is often defined as taking someone's else's work and passing it off as your own. That work may be someone's else idea, their wording of an idea, a fact, a quote, a photograph, a chart, etc. Giving credit where it is due makes you a good citizen as well as a good writer. One way to avoid plagiarism is to read over your paper and ask yourself, "Is each fact/idea/phrasing mine?" If it is not, cite that fact/idea/phrasing. Believe it or not, it is relatively easy for instructors to spot plagiarism in a paper. It is better to avoid any suggestion that the content in your paper is not entirely yours: you can do this by citing every fact/theory/quotation, etc in your paper. 

The MLA Handbook has plenty to say about avoiding plagiarism.  So does the MLA website

What is Plagiarism and How to Avoid It