An Online Tutorial Taking You Through the Steps of the Library Research Process Citing Sources

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Tutorial Contents:
  1. Library Map & Virtual Tour
  2. Avoiding Impulse Buys
  3. Size & Shape of Information
  4. Most Bang for Your Buck
  5. Trying it on for Size
  6. Don't Shoplift!


It can sometimes seem like teachers are telling students two contradictory things when they say don't plagiarize but they expect you to do research using library resources and to incorporate that information into your paper. 

The two main points to remember is first of all,  it is not plagiarism if you cite your sources correctly and second, as the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers reminds us, "the main purpose of doing research is not to summarize the work of others but to assimilate and to build on it and to arrive at your own understanding of the subject," (Gibaldi 4).  Think of quotes, facts and ideas gleaned from your research as the seasoning in your paper.  If you add too much seasoning to a dish, it ruins it.  Add just the right amount and it helps to enhance the flavors that are already there.  Therefore, use outside sources to help lend support to your own ideas or as possible topics to refute, but the main component of the paper should still be your own. 

There are several different prescribed formats for citing sources.  The one you use might be determined by your teacher or by the discipline.  Certain disciplines use a particular style for citing sources.  For example, the humanities (art, music, literature) uses the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or MLA Style.  The social sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology) uses the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or APA Style. 

Both of these style manuals are available in the library.  There are copies of each in the reference collection and copies on reserve that can be checked out for one week. The call numbers are listed below.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

In addition to the manuals, which can sometimes seem a bit intimidating, the librarians put together quick handouts that show examples of how to cite some of the most commonly used types of sources.  To access these, click on the link below.  The handout will open in a new window.  Print it out and close the window to return to the tutorial.

MLA Style Handout (PDF 23kb)

APA Style Handout (PDF 181kb)



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