|Documentation Rules of Thumb
- Seek out a number of different sources from a variety of media, unless
your teacher advises otherwise.
- Document every source you use, whether print or electronic.
You must provide a
reference even if you paraphrase or summarize it in your own words, or even
if you borrow just an idea or phrase from a source.
If you cite a
work that originally appeared in a print source, cite that reference first, and then cite
the electronic database you accessed.
- Read every source with a critical eye.
Be alert to the
author's assumptions and biases.
Ask yourself if the source offers
evidence for or against your thesis.
- Record all bibliographical data the first time
you reference a source so that you do not have to go look it up again later. This includes
the author or authors, title and subtitle, and copyright information (city of publication,
publisher's name, and year for books), periodical name, volume and issue number, date, and
page numbers for periodicals).
- Get copies of your sources for later reference.
Print a hard copy
of your WWW source so that you can quote, paraphrase, or summarize it accurately and have
full URL information.
will provide the URL in the upper right hand corner of the print-out and the access date
at the bottom margin.
- Integrate the source smoothly into your own text:
- Use a "signal phrase" or "running acknowledgment" to introduce the
source: "According to Jane Smith, Professor of Literature at State University, . . .
- Insert the source, whether in quotation, paraphrase, or summary.
- Cite the source with a parenthetical note according to the appropriate documentation
- Explain the significance of that source for your thesis or for the point you're trying
to make in that paragraph. Don't leave a source dangling or assume that your reader will
understand what you're trying to say with that source. Explain it!
- Make sure that every parenthetical note in your paper has an accompanying "Works
Cited" (for MLA style ) or "References" (for APA style) entry at the end of
the essay giving complete bibliographical data.
|1. Don't loosely mix quotation with summary and
paraphrase; that is, do not use a few of
your own words and then switch to the author's phrasing and back and forth, or do not
simply use a thesaurus to find equivalent words. If you're going to recast a source, do it
in your own words; if you're going to use quotation, use quotation marks exactly.
|2. Base your paper on only one or two sources, unless you are writing in direct
response to those sources.
|Proper and complete documentation is the mark of of a responsible researcher and
educated person. Good documentation shows you are responsible to your readers (by showing
them your intellectual debts) and to your sources (by giving them proper credit).