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Cite This Paper...

Bob Brown
School of Computing and Software Engineering
Southern Polytechnic State University
Copyright © 2005

This Web page is the result of an excellent idea I saw at Dr. Eric Weisstein's Web site, http://mathworld.wolfram.com/, namely providing formatted citation information with papers published on the World Wide Web. The purposes of this page are to encourage authors to include citation information in their papers, and to help and encourage students to use it. There is information for both authors and students below.

I hope you find this page useful and helpful. If you have suggestions, please write: bbrown at spsu dot edu.

Information for Authors    Information for Students

Information for Students

Possibly you reached this page by following a search engine link, or maybe by following a "Cite this paper" link in something you were reading on the Web. In either case, you are probably here for help with citations in a paper you are writing. We'll try to help.

First, I want to give you a valuable clue. If you think that omitting a citation or several will impress your teacher with your knowledge, you should know that not only doesn't work, it is also very dangerous. What does impress teachers is a thorough job of research. You demonstrate the thoroughness of your research by citing the material that you have read. It is the presence of citations that impresses teachers, not the absence of them.

If you followed a "Cite this paper" link, you already have all the information you need to cite that particular paper, but it may not be in the right format. If your teacher has told you to use a particular format, use it! You may need to rearrange the information given to suit the form your teacher asked for. It is OK to make changes like that.

If you got here in some other way, you'll have to locate the citation information in the article itself. If there is information missing, you won't be able to include it in your citation, and that is OK. Don't lose sight of the two goals of proper citation: to give credit where credit is due, and to provide enough information for your readers that they can find the sources you used.

If your teacher has not given you a form for citations, check whether your school has a standard form. Your library or the library Web page can help with that. If there's a standard form, use that in the absence of instructions for your class. If there's no standard form for the school, use one if the national formats. the APA and MLA formats are widely used. (Type "APA reference format" into a search engine for an example.)

You need a bibliography or references section at the end of your paper and citations in the text every time you use the words or ideas of others. You can find an example with explanation at http://bbrown.spsu.edu/papers/writing_example_apa.html. This example is in APA format, but it is equally easy to use the other formats.

For an explanation of the citation process, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation.

There is some more general help in preparing a term paper here: http://bbrown.spsu.edu/papers/term_paper.html. If any of that advice contradicts what your teacher has told you, do what your teacher has asked. What you will read by following the link is what I tell my students. Other teachers may have different requirements.

If you are wondering about standards of academic conduct in general, you can find more information here: http://bbrown.spsu.edu/papers/conduct.html.

Information for Authors

It is very likely that you have published material on the World Wide Web because you want others to use it for teaching and learning. Probably you also want your work cited properly when it is used. I have come to believe that the single most effective thing an author can do to encourage proper citation is to include citation information in the paper itself. It serves to remind students that a citation is needed and gives them all the information, and possibly even the format, in one place.

Here is how the citation information appears in one of my papers:

Cite this paper as:

Brown, B., (2001). Postfix Notation Mini-Lecture. Retrieved on (date) from: http://bbrown.spsu.edu/web_lectures/postfix/.

By making the phrase "Cite this paper" a link to this Web page, you can help spread the word to other authors.

If your field has an accepted form for bibliography entries, you should use it. Otherwise, I encourage you to use the APA format so that most bibliography entries students will see will look alike.


Orignially posted: 2005-02-26Proud member of The Internet Defense League
Last updated: 2014-10-12 18:41


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