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Citation and Attribution
Transcript of Citation and Attribution
To Cite or
Not to Cite
Quotation, Paraphrase, & Summary
Citation is used to acknowledge the use of other people's words, ideas, and work.If you fail to acknowledge the ideas of others, it isn't just plagiarism—it’s theft.
You repeat specific words, phrasing, or sentences;
You summarize concepts or ideas; or
You use facts, figures, statistics, or information from an outside source that are not considered "common knowledge."
Your own credibility is questionable;
Your audience expects you to cite, or expects to see a specific text/author cited; or
The source you are citing offers supporting evidence to further your argument.
Overusing direct quotations
Repeating what others say rather than saying something yourself
Using suspect sources or using misleading quotations.
Quotations are used when the specific wording is important, dynamic, or impossible to summarize or paraphrase.
Summary is used to condense lengthy information into a more accessible form. This includes changing the format of materials.
Paraphrase is used to make difficult ideas easier to understand.
When should you cite?
What should you avoid?
Use quotation and context (explanation, summary, and paraphrase) together to achieve readable writing.
alternatives to "said"...
In informal situations and certain writing contexts (like communiques and journalistic writing), a formal citation is replaced with an "attributive tag." No bibliography or works cited page is included.
At minimum, an attributive tag contains the source or owner of information. Additional information is often added to contextualize the information. This can include:
When and where it appeared
What prompted the information
Where the information can be found (physical documents)
A link to the information (virtual documents)
Example of a tag in a management document
Example of a tag in a journalistic story
Example of a tag in a virtual document
There are many different styles of formal citation—each with its own distinct rules—but all styles pair an in-text citation with an out-of-text reference. Unlike informal citation, formal citation systems use strict rules to document a source. Formal citation favors peer reviewed and scholarly sources, and is used in more substantive documents (e.g. term papers, formal reports, annotated bibliographies).
Formal citation has two distinct parts: first, in-text, the writer uses a form of notation to indicate the source of the information; second, out-of-text, the writer uses a Bibliography or Works Cited page to provide the bibliographic reference for the work.
There are many different styles of formal citation. Some of the more common forms are:
The CSE systems encompass three methods of citation (name-year, citation sequence, and citation name) that share the same bibliographic format. CSE is used in scientific and some technical publications.
The Chicago system used in many technical and trade publications.
The Modern Language Association (MLA) system used in the liberal arts and many scholarly journals.
The American Psychological Association (APA) system used in the social sciences.
The Pennsylvania State University libraries maintain a page that explains how to use each system.
For example, in the CSE (Citation-Name) style, a short quote, paraphrase, or summary uses a superscript number (in-text) to indicate the reference:
This reference number corresponds to the source, listed in alphabetical order, on a Bibliography Page at the end of the document (out-of-text).
In formal research and writing, a quotation longer than three lines is generally formatted as a block quote.
The quotation is formatted in an indented text block with a single reference at the quotation's end.
No quotation marks are used to begin or end a block quote.
Remember that, whenever possible, you should summarize or paraphrase.
Stylistically, if an attributive tag is used, it is generally assumed that all material that follows (until the formal citation) is from the same source. Other style rules include:
When using attributive tags in formal research and writing, the attributive tag should be as concise as possible.
If your quotation includes a quotation, the inner quotation marks become single quotes (').
Different citation systems have different ways of citing a quotation that itself includes citation (a citation within a citation). Consult a style guide for guidance.
Informal attributive tags may be used along with formal citation to improve readability, clarify the source of information, and distinguish between one source and another or your own interpretation of a source.
Conducting and Using Formal Research
Formal research places a priority on using the most reliable, timely, and trustworthy sources. As a general guideline, the following hierarchy is used to evaluate each source and determine whether it should be considered as a source:
1) Recent books and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Although a landmark study (the source that originated a concept or idea) must be cited, preference is given to the most recent sources that have been reviewed and endorsed by experts in the field.
2) Older books and articles in peer-reviewed journals, government/scholastic publications, and articles in scholarly sources. Governmental/scholastic reports and articles from scholarly journals (academic publications that have not been peer reviewed) can supplement contemporary studies and provide foundational background in the thinking on a subject.
3) Interviews and trade/technical data. Background source material can be further clarified with "raw" materials gleaned from a variety of sources.
Formal research generally discourages using popular, journalistic, or purely online sources (e.g. blogs), although there may be certain times these materials would be used.
To distinguish between different types of publications, consult the colophon of a book or the publication/editorial credits in a magazine/journal. Peer reviewed, scholarly, and trade publications will generally identify themselves as such, and will list the degrees/affiliations of the editorial staff. Governmental and scholastic publications will generally indicate who commissioned the materials. If no identification/commission is given, the material may be assumed to be either popular or journalistic in nature.
Although popular and journalistic sources are generally unacceptable for formal research, they may discuss credible sources that may be formally researched.
Annotated bibliographies and reviews of literature can also be helpful in identifying primary sources, and are often listed as sources, but are rarely cited themselves.
Review of Literature
A Review of Literature is used to compare and contrast sources.
It provides foundational background on the subject. If a "Landmark" study exists, it will identify the study and explain its significance.
In terms of the questions they asked and the answers found, it explains how sources relate to one another
It attempts to explain contradictions and identify trends. If there is controversy concerning research, it will discuss these problems.
It will consider findings in relevant, parallel areas.
Ultimately, the Review of Literature is used to narrow down a broad field to a narrow investigative question, and identify a hypothesis based on previous research.
An Annotated Bibliography couples summary and paraphrase of a source with its bibliographic reference.
It is a tool to quickly access the contents of a source, especially what questions it asked and what answers it found.
In addition to summary and paraphrase, it will also include analysis (e.g. the significance of findings or problems in methodology). Although it generally will not compare one source to another, it may analyze its greater significance.
It is important to distinguish between the contents of the source and analysis of the source. Attributive tags are generally used for this purpose.
In her book The Harbrace Guide to Writing, Cheryl Glenn discusses the use of “function statements,” as a tool for writing with sources. A function statement captures not just what was said (summary, paraphrase) but the reason behind what was said (interpretation).
A position statement accompanied by a bibliographic citation becomes an entry in an Annotated Bibliography.
In formal writing, research is used in a variety of ways.
In academic documents (e.g. term papers) and longer professional documents (e.g. reports), research is used throughout the document to support arguments and clarify materials.
Research is also used to document data that is presented. Attributing data to a source (e.g. the technical specifications of a product to the manufacturer) indicates that the source (and not the writer) is ultimately responsible for the accuracy.
In many scientific and technical situations, a Review of Literature is an important part of the introductory material. This section compares and contrasts sources.
An Annotated Bibliography is a tool used to understand specifically what an individual source says, and why. Although the Annotated Bibliography is generally included at the end of a document, it is often written first.
Abraham Loeb and Edwin L. Turner. Detection Technique for Artificially Illuminated Objects in the Outer Solar System and Beyond . Astrobiology. April 2012, 12(4): 290-294.