The big idea
You cite your sources to prove to your reader where you got your information. In some instances, the reader may be so interested in what you wrote that he or she wants to read more about the topic. Citations tell where to find the same sources you used.
Before you begin
Be sure that you keep track of all necessary information AS YOU ARE DOING YOUR RESEARCH. Jot down the title of the book or magazine, author, publisher, date, and so on. Writing this stuff down as you go is one heck of a lot easier than going back to the library later on to hunt it all up.
How to do it
Parenthetical references are one way to show where you got your information for a research paper. Parenthetical references are not the same as a bibliography. Not, not, not.
The parenthetical references generally have a couple of words, like "(Kirk 100)." The first word is the last name of an author. You can find the rest of his name, and the name of his book, in the bibliography, alphabetized under "K" for "Kirk." The second word--number, actually--is the page number in that book where the fact came from.
Some sources don't have an author. Then just use the first word or two of the title, like "(Flob)" or "('Other People's')."
Sometimes, as with web pages, there is no page number, or like with an encyclopedia article, the page number doesn't matter. In that case, just skip the whole page number thing. What to cite:
- Everything that you quote
- Any fact that is not common knowledge
- Any conclusions reached by other people, a phrase which here means "intelligent things said or written by somebody--not you--that are based on mountains and mountains of study done on a particular topic"
Where to cite
At the end of each sentence. Here's what it looks like. Look for the information in parentheses at the end of certain sentences. Those references tell you where to look on the bibliography page to learn where each fact came from. I've made them red here so they stand out, but don't do that in your own papers.
Notice also that the parenthetical reference comes after the quotation marks (if there are any), but inside the period at the end of the sentence.
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Copyright 1996-2004 by Michael Klingensmith