Research

Research

Introduction to Conducting Research

Research for a school assignment is like doing research in everyday life.  We are all involved in research projects all the time.  What car should I buy?  What career should I train for?  What school should I go to?  What should I take for my headache?  Which treatment plan should I pursue for an illness?  Even though the questions pursued in academic research may not seem as practical, they are still the same.

A research paper also can be compared to our everyday life experiences.  After you do your research, you decide what car to buy.  You have found an answer to your research question.  If someone were to ask you  how you decided to buy a particular car, you might say, “Well, my dad said that blah, blah.  Then, I checked it out with our mechanic, and he said, “Blah, Blah.”  Then, I went to the bank for a loan, and the lady there said this has a good resale and they will lend me the money I need.”  You might find differing opinions.  You might something such as the following: “Our mechanic did not agree with my dad about blah, blah, but I think my dad is right because blah,blah.”  It’s important to report opposing views and explain why you decided not to accept them.  So, after considering all this information, you chose this car.  A research paper is the same thing.  It’s just more formal, and it has to follow a system for citing your sources such as MLA or APA.

The idea of research, anywhere, is to find out what you don’t know – not to find sources to support what you think you know.  You are supposed to approach research with an open mind.

Instructors will assign either a research question or a research topic or allow you to choose from a list.  If you have a question, your research immediately is focused research: research that focuses on finding an answer to the question.

If you start with a topic, your initial research is exploratory: research that explores the topic.  In this case, you have to determine your question in order to do focused research.  Then, you search for information on that question.

Proper research requires finding sources that help answer the question, not just any sources that have something to do with the topic.

Finding and Evaluating Sources (Critical Analysis)

Finding and Evaluating Sources (Critical Analysis)

Finding Sources

Identify the Research Question

Before you can start research, you must first identify the research question. Your instructor will either assign a specific research question or a research topic.

If you are assigned a question or can select from a list of questions, it is easy to identify your question. You can start with focused research looking for sources that would help to answer the question. Don’t select a source by the title. It is critical that you read through possible sources to see if they will help with the question. For example, if your question asks whether pesticides in foods are harmful, don’t just select any source that has to do with pesticides. There are pesticide issues with the environment, for example, that have nothing to do with this question.

If you are assigned a topic, you will start with exploratory research. Exploratory research is where you explore various aspects of the topic and after learning something about it, you focus on a particular question of your choice. This is called narrowing the topic. Then, your research becomes focused research on that particular question.

Either way, before doing research for a research paper, you must identify a research question. The research question is critical since all of the content of the research essay follows from the question.

Primary and Secondary Sources

A primary source is where the author is presenting his or her own information either based on professional knowledge or research. This is the best type of source to use when conducting research.

A secondary source is where the author is reporting information presented from other people. This means that there could be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation or the information, and it is not considered as reliable as primary sources.

Traditional Sources, Electronic Library Resources, and Internet Sources

Traditional sources are tangible sources as existed before the Internet: books, newspapers, magazines, film, interviews,  works of art, and so on. Then with the Internet, a new source of information has become available in the website. In addition, many traditional sources have been collected and made available online. Electronic Library Resources (available to PHSC students through a link in Canvas) provides many originally hard-print sources electronically.

Evaluating Sources

General Considerations

It is important to first make sure you understand your assignment as to how many sources are required and any restrictions on where they may be from.  There might be a requirement to use at least one type of specific source such as a book, article from a journal, magazine, or newspaper, or page from a website. 

Don't simply select a source by the title. You must review to be sure the content will help answer the question. For example, if your research question or topic is about how the moon affects earth's tides, the source must have information on that specific area. Some articles on the moon might talk about space exploration or its geography or its climate, none of which will help with a paper about tides.

Once you have screened for appropriateness, the content should be reviewed for reading level. If the paper is too technical, it may not be understandable enough to work with. You should be able to understand it and make notes on the main points.

Then, a closer look is needed.  

Critical Analysis

The term critical doesn't always mean finding the problems or being judgmental.  A movie critic, for example, reviews a movie for strengths and weaknesses. We have to be critics ourselves when we review our own writing and when we review information for our papers. We shouldn't just believe everything we see, hear, or read. We have to be particularly careful when that information comes from a purportedly legitimate source. We generally think that documentaries have true and accurate information, but sometimes they don't present all viewpoints or are biased towards one.  Here are a number of considerations:

  1. credibility – is the source believable?; is the source created by a person or organization that knows about the subject matter.  Determining credibility of online sources can be a challenge since it is not always clear who created or published what we are looking at. If a person is named as author, is that person a professional in the field?
  2. facts – does the source include the truth; is information based on evidence
  3. opinion –  is the content a personal evaluation of the author and not necessarily based on specific, accurate, or credible evidence?
  4. evidence – is there support such as examples, statistics, descriptions, comparisons, and illustrations; evidence is also called proof, support, or supporting evidence.  
  5. bias and slanted language – is there a  preference for one side over the other; is there slanted language which is language shows a bias or preference for one position over another.
  6. tone – what is the tone?  Words can be used to create a feeling such as a happy tone or sarcastic tone or angry tone. Tone can be used to persuade.
  7. stereotype – the generalization that a person or situation in a certain category has certain attributes such as because a person is old, he or she is a bad drive. Stereotyping is faulty logic.
  8. preconceived ideas – ideas that we already have; in doing research, it is very important to look for sources that present all of the perspectives on a question, not just those that prove what we think we know.
  9. logic – evidence should be evaluated for logic; does the evidence have any logical fallacies.  
  10. valid argument – is the argument valid? A valid argument is based on logical analysis of information, but if the information is not accurate, the conclusion is not necessarily true.
  11. sound argument – an argument based on a syllogism that has accurate major and minor premises. An argument can be sound, but it is not necessarily true since the information on which it is based may not be accurate.
  12. Toulmin Logic – a form of logic that uses claim, grounds, and warrant for analyzing the logic of an argument.
  13. logical fallacies (flawed logic) – faulty logic; includes sweeping generalization, argument to the person (ad hominem), non sequitur, either/or fallacy, begging the question, and bandwagon argument.  
  14. appeals – use of language to sway the reader by appealing to emotions, logic, or ethics. 

Traditional Sources

Traditional Sources

How to Search Traditional Print Sources

Print sources include books, newspapers, magazines, journals, and any other hard-copy sources such as official records.  Print sources generally include all tangible sources such as video or audio tapes.

Print sources are still valuable for research. While many print sources are available in an online version, many are not.  Copyrighted materials that are not yet in the public domain are often available only in print version.

Library catalogs are now generally available both in print and electronically.  In other words, you can search a library catalog online to see what is available on the shelves.  In many cases, you can now reserve, request transfer from a library affiliate, and even renew online.

The catalog, whether you access in print or electronically, is the first step in selecting print sources.  The contents of the library are organized by subject and by author.  Some electronic library catalogs might also include a keyword search.

Encyclopedias and dictionaries can be very useful resources, especially a specializedencyclopedia such as the Encyclopedia of Aeronautics or specialized dictionary such as a medical dictionary. They are excellent ways of getting general information on your particular subject if you are not familiar with it at all.

The table of contents or an index, if any, of a book can be helpful in determining whether there is information on your question.  Bibliographies, list of books, can be helpful in find a source.  There are periodical indexes which are lists by content of either one periodical or several periodicals.  These indexes would save the time of going through the individual table of contents of each journal.  In some disciplines, there are specialized reference works such as the Oxford English Dictionary which gives not only the current definition of a word but also every definition the word ever had in printed documents along with more information.

Once you have found possible sources, they must be screened for validity and appropriateness.  If you are researching a topic such as stem cell research where there are new studies being published regularly, a book published even five years ago is probably not appropriate.  Newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals are better sources for the most recent information.

The background of the author is an appropriate way to screen for validity.  Information about treatment for diseases from a physician may be more valid that information from a person without a medical background.  Association with an organization is also a tool for evaluating validity.  Whether or not a publication is peer reviewed is critical.  Scholarly journals, for example, are usually peer reviewed which means that specialists in the field have reviewed the articles for validity and significance before publishing.

Increasingly, the entire contents of libraries are online.  This can be particularly helpful even if your ultimate goal is to use the print version since you can do an online content keyword search to see if the book contains information on your question.

As much as possible, screening for appropriate hard-copy sources should be done through information in the online catalogs to avoid wasting time in going to a library only to find the source was not appropriate.

Electronic Library Resources

Electronic Library Resources

What is Electronic Library Resources?

Electronic Library Resources is a link to a collection of academic research materials. It includes access to the PHSC Catalog along with other research tools. These include access to the A-Z Databases provided by the State of Florida electronic databases (a collection of data organized in a way to find specific information in the contents – may be created either in hard copy or electronic) and e-journals. 

For the most part, the Electronic Library Resources consist of electronic versions of newspapers, magazines, books and journals that were originally published in hard-copy version. They are delivered through subscription services.

The Electronic Library Resources also includes online encyclopedias such as Funk and Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia and a number of online only resources.

Databases such as America’s News and Academic Search Complete are made available through subscription services such as EBSCO and Newsbank.

Some databases collect articles from various publications. America’sNews has articles from various newspapers around the country. 

Once you have selected a source it is important to understand exactly what you are looking at. In the Electronic Library Resources, there is an A-Z list of databases along with the subscription service that provides them.

When you are doing your Works Cited or other bibliography if using a different style such as APA, you will need to know the author, title of the article, name of the magazine, newspaper, or journal it was originally printed in, the publication information or URL and date.

ALL PHSC students have access to our electronic library resources. There is a direct link from within Canvas. From the Modules page, click Electronic Library Resources on the left sidebar. You then click on the blue button that says open in another page.

Working with the Electronic Library Resources can be challenging until you get used to it. The different subscription services have different search engines.  It is important to see how the Search page is organized to properly filter for your prospective sources. Become familiar with the organization of the Electronic Library Resources.

The Subject list is good place to start to search all databases that might have information on your topic. Look carefully to see what information is asked for on the page.  Use the little arrows to scroll for choices where indicated.

Be sure to check Full Text where available. Not all databases have the full text of the article.

Be sure to limit the dates of sources to get the most recent information when appropriate. Information on some topics could easily be outdated very quickly.

Keywords may be different in different databases. Be sure to using limitations and specifics where possible. For example, a search for the keyword Atlantis could result in sources on the resort and the movie in addition to the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis. A better keyword might be Plato’s Atlantis or Lost Continent of Atlantis. While some search systems anticipate a range of possibilities, others require some trial and error searching.

Use of quotation marks tells the search engine to find both words together. For example, a search of the keywords Egyptian mummies could yield source for mummies from South America and elsewhere, but “Egyptian mummies” should give results only for mummies that are Egyptian.

Remember that a Boolean search could be helpful. Boolean words are AND, OR, NOT. Note that they are capitalized. Some search engines will automatically insert the Boolean AND when there are two keywords entered, but sometimes you could try to include on your own. If you wanted information on all mummies except Egyptian mummies, you could search mummies NOT Egyptian.

Filtering is critical to find sources both in the databases and in any internet research.

Remember that Electronic Library Resources are set up so that you can search by specific database listed alphabetically, by category in the Subject list and also by database type (i.e. digital or video databases etc.)

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

How to Search the Internet

Unlike print sources which are expensive to publish, the Internet provides a means to inexpensively publish.  Anybody can pretty much publish anything.  That is why it is particularly important to screen possible sources from the World Wide Web.  There are specialized search engines such as ones for children’s sites or for radio stations or images.

Another problem with sources on the Internet is that all sources look the same in the sense they are online.  In print sources, we can readily see what type of publication is: book, newspaper, magazine.  On line, we have to look more carefully to understand what we are looking at.

The web address (URL) is a good first indicator.  Suffixes tell us something about the source: .gov is a government site, .edu is an educational institution site, and .com is a business.

Sources from businesses should be viewed for a bias.  A business website is promoting a business, not necessarily giving all the information about a controversial issue.  On the other hand, a business source can give valid technical information about a product.

It is important to see who is sponsoring the site.  Sometimes, the name of the website will seem to present information from a certain perspective, but when we see who posted the website, it is clear that is not the case.

Unacceptable Sources:

There are some websites that should not be used as sources for academic research such as blogs which are just people expressing an opinion and not presented as a knowledgeable sources.  Editorial opinion either from an editor or submitted from a reader should be evaluated for bias and credibility since there is a question about whether the person is actually knowledgeable in the field.  Wikis are created by people posting information.  Most are not necessarily created by scholars or others knowledgeable in the field.  In fact, here is a quote from the Wikipedia page “About Wikipedia:”

“Anyone with Web access can edit Wikipedia, and this openness encourages inclusion of a tremendous amount of content. About 75,000 editors—from expert scholars to casual readers—regularly edit Wikipedia …

Wikipedia does have a system in place for review of content and presentationand while they strive to edit for completeness and balance, there is the following disclosure:

“Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start: they may contain false or debatable information. Indeed, many articles start their lives as displaying a single viewpoint; and, after a long process of discussion, debate, and argument, they gradually take on a neutral point of view reached through consensus.”

A standard encyclopedia is reviewed for accuracy by experts before publishing.

It’s easy to get lost in cyberspace.  We could easily be in a site and then follow a link to some other site.  We might think we are in a reputable site, but we are actually somewhere else.

Then, there is the situation where a variety of sources are posted within a site.  Each would have to be evaluated separately.

Strategies for Searching the Internet:

What you get is a result of what you ask for and how you ask for it.  Search engines use categories to come up with the selections they present after you type in your search.  Popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing.  Generally, your computer is set up with a default to a search engine depending upon your browser.  A browser is the program that gets you onto the Internet.  Browsers includes Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla. There are also specialized search engines that are created to help do focused research in a specific area such as health care of business administration.

The key to a good search is to use a keyword or keywords that will find what you are looking for and to filter so that you don’t get selections you don’t want.  Say you wanted to find out whether about mummies from countries other than Egypt.  If you type in mummies, for example, the search will result in mummies from all countries and eras, most of which will probably be from Egypt.  You would have to filter manually through all to find information on other types of mummies.

Boolean searches are ways to limit selections.  Boolean searches use the words ANDOR, and NOT to refine searches.  If you try searching mummies NOT Egyptian, you will have a more limited list.  Note that these Boolean searches are in all caps.  While some search engines now automatically capitalize, others don’t.

Quotation marks could also be helpful.  They tell the search engine you want results for all of the words in quotation marks and not just either of the words.  The results list could be very different for “breast cancer” than for breast cancer, depending upon the search engine.

Synthesizing Information from Sources

Synthesizing Information from Sources

Synthesizing Information from Sources

Research papers (research essays)  must include information from sources.  This is called synthesizing or integrating your sources.

There are three ways to incorporate information from other sources into your paper: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Good research papers should include at least quoting and paraphrasing and preferably also summarizing. The method you choose depends on which is the best way to make the point you are trying to make in using that particular information from the source. It is very important to remember that even if you are not using the exact words of the author as when you paraphrase or summarize, you must give a source citation.

Every sentence with information from a source must give credit to the source by citing the source. It is NOT all right to have a few sentences from a source and then give credit to the source. A reader would not know how many, if any at all, of the preceding sentences had information from that source. A quote, paraphrase, or summary without a citation giving credit to the source is plagiarism.

Quoting

Quotations are best used when used sparingly. A common error in many papers is the overuse of quotations.  When a paper contains too many quotations the reader may become bored or conclude that you have no ideas of your own. Keep quotations short and only use them when a paraphrase would not capture the meaning or reflect the author’s specific choice of words.  You may also wish to introduce a quote if you plan on disagreeing with the source since using the exact words helps the reader understand the differences between your position and the position in the source and helps to show that you are fairly representing the source.

When you do decide to use quotations, make sure that you do not simply cut the words out and drop them into your paper. You will need to give a brief introduction to the quote to let readers understand the context of the words and their relationship to your argument. Quotes that do not reflect the meaning of the author within the context are considered out-of-context.  Quotes should not be used out-of-context to convey a meaning not intended by the author.  In addition, quotes must be incorporated logically into a sequence of sentences.

Incorrect use:

People pay higher prices for organic food.  “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).

Corrected use:

People pay higher prices for organic food.  Jones makes a good point when he explains how really impossible it is at this time to tell whether foods are grown without certain chemicals or pesticides to justify these higher prices. “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).

Quotations must also be incorporated grammatically.

Original Quotation: 

Jones continues to explain, “No proof that pesticides were not used.”

Corrected use: 

Jones continues to explain that there is “no proof that pesticides were not used.”

Substitutions, Additions, and Omissions in Quotations:

Quotations can be modified; however, proper punctuation must be used to indicate the substitutions, additions, and omissions.  Any such substitutions, additions or omissions should not result in quoting out of context where the meaning of the quote is changed.

  • Brackets, also called square brackets, are used to show that the original quote has been modified.
  • An ellipsis (three periods in a row) is used to show that words have been omitted.

Original Quotation: 

“Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Quotation Modified to Substitute an Uppercase for a Lowercase: 

Pinto acknowledges that blended families can also offer positive aspects. Pinto indicates that “[o]ne example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family.”

See how a small letter o was substituted for the capital O since using the word that changes what is in the quote to a continuation of a sentence started outside the quote.

Quotation Modified for Clarity:

Pinto continues, “Another [advantage] is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment.”

The word advantage was added to make the subject clear.

Quotation Modified to Eliminate Unnecessary Words: 

Pinto explains, “One example is the increase in available emotional support … from the larger, more extended family.”

See how the ellipsis shows the omission of words.

Length of Quotes:

While research essays should primarily be your own ideas and analysis of sources, sometimes, such as when the author’s words cannot be adequately paraphrased to convey the intended meaning,  it is appropriate to include a long quote.

If you are quoting for more than four lines (not sentences), you need to set the quote off from the text.  Indent the quote one inch from the left margin, and do not surround the quote with quotation marks. The quote should be double spaced as with the rest of the paper.

Helen Keller, though born both deaf and blind, was no coward. This can be seen in her views on the worth of life:

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a restatement of the sources ideas into your own words. Quotations should only be used in paraphrases when there are special words or wording that cannot be paraphrased. Because the same information that the author provided is being used, a paraphrase is often as long as the original source. Since paraphrases are information from a source, every sentence with paraphrased information must cite the source even if exact words are not quoted.

Even through a sentence with paraphrased information must cite the source, any exact words from the source must be in quotation marks.  Failing to use quotation marks on exact words is plagiarism even if the sentence give credit to the source.

Proper note-taking while doing research will help avoid plagiarism.  Notes should include quotation marks around any exact words taken from sources.

Another problem students may have with paraphrasing is that the language used in the paraphrase should be an accurate accounting of the source’s ideas. Good paraphrasing doesn’t just capture the ideas of the source. They don’t include your own opinions or omit important information. Just like in a quotation, be sure to either introduce the source at the beginning of your paraphrase or cite the source at the end of the sentence so that the reader knows these are not your ideas, but ideas from your source.

Jones thinks the answer to reducing water usage is to raise water rates.

OR – The answer to reducing water usage is to raise water rates (Jones).

A Good Paraphrase:

  1. has all the main ideas included with no new ideas added.

  2. is different enough from the original to be your own writing.

  3. refers directly to the original source

Quotation: 

“Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever-changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Unacceptable Paraphrase: 

Step-families have advantages too. One is that there is more emotional support when there are more people. Also, children can cope better with life if they start dealing with problems when they’re young.

  • This paraphrase uses too much of the original’s wording and sentence structure.
  • It does not properly introduce or cite the original source.
  • It does not accurately convey the ideas of the source.

Improved Paraphrase: 

Although there are many criticisms leveled against mixed families, Pinto gives some reasons for hope. First, Pinto says that blended families are often larger and can provide more “emotional support” and other aid for the children. Pinto continues by explaining that because of the emotional and social complications that arise in a blended family, children are more able to deal with the complexities of today’s changing world.

Summarizing

A summary is similar to a paraphrase in that you again use your own words.   This time, however, not all the details are included.  You must decide what the source’s main points are and condense them into a few concise sentences. For this reason summaries are often much shorter than the original source. Summaries should not use exact quotes from the source except in those unusual situations where there is a special word or phrase that cannot be expressed in your own words.

Like all of the other methods of incorporating source information into your paper, it is important to not plagiarize, either by forgetting to quote the original if you use the same words, or by not clearly introducing the information as having come from the source.

A Good Summary:

  1. contains only the most important information
  2. is concise; it should always be shorter than the original
  3. paraphrases any information taken from the source
  4. refers directly to the original source
  5. does not use exact wording (quotes) except for special word or words that cannot be expressed otherwise

Original Quotation: 

“Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Unacceptable Summary: 

Step-families have advantages too. One is that there is more emotional support when there are more people. And there are other resources because there are more family members.  Also, children can cope better with life if they start dealing with problems when they’re young.

  • This summary contains more than just the most important information.
  • It is not concise
  • It does not refer back to the source

Improved Summary: Pinto believes that blended families can provide more emotional support and resources and help children learn to cope more effectively in a complex world.

Since a summary contains sentences with information from a source, each sentence must cite the source if you use a summary in your research paper.  However, there are times when you have an assignment in a class which asks for a summary.  In that case, the instructor may not require that the source be cited in each sentence as long as it is given credit at the beginning or end and there is no question it is a summary of a source. If the assignment asks for an analysis of a particular source along with your opinion, then each sentence with information from the source must cite the source in order to distinguish it from your analysis.  This is not strictly a summary since summaries contain only key ideas from the source and not your opinion or analysis.

Important Notes

Separation of Personal Feelings:

Sometimes, it is difficult to separate our personal feelings about the content of a source when we paraphrase or summarize.  It is critical to be able to objectively paraphrase and summarize.  Research is not about finding sources which support your position.  Research is about finding the variety of opinions on the issue, evaluating them, and then deciding what your position is.  You will be reading and using information you do not agree with.

Use of Summaries in Research Papers:

Since a summary contains sentences with information from a source, each sentence must cite the source if you use a summary in your research paper.  However, there are times when you have an assignment in a class which asks for a summary.  In that case, the instructor may not require that the source be cited in each sentence as long as it is given credit at the beginning or end and there is no question it is a summary of a source. If the assignment asks for an analysis of a particular source along with your opinion, then each sentence with information from the source must cite the source in order to distinguish it from your analysis.  This is not strictly a summary since summaries contain only key ideas from the source and not your opinion or analysis.

Quoting

Quoting

Definition and Usage

Quotations are use of exact words from a source.  Direct quotes are use of the author's words.  Indirect quotes are when you use a quote that is quoted in the source.

Quotations are best used when used sparingly. A common error in many papers is the overuse of quotations.  When a paper contains too many quotations the reader may become bored or conclude that you have no ideas of your own. Keep quotations short and only use them when a paraphrase would not capture the meaning or reflect the author’s specific choice of words.  You may also wish to introduce a quote if you plan on disagreeing with the source since using the exact words helps the reader understand the differences between your position and the position in the source and helps to show that you are fairly representing the source.

When you do decide to use quotations, make sure that you do not simply cut the words out and drop them into your paper. You will need to give a brief introduction to the quote to let readers understand the context of the words and their relationship to your argument. Quotes that do not reflect the meaning of the author within the context are considered out-of-context.  Quotes should not be used out-of-context to convey a meaning not intended by the author.  In addition, quotes must be incorporated logically into a sequence of sentences.

Incorrect use:

People pay higher prices for organic food.  “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).

Corrected use:

People pay higher prices for organic food.  Jones makes a good point when he explains how really impossible it is at this time to tell whether foods are grown without certain chemicals or pesticides to justify these higher prices. “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).

Quotations must also be incorporated grammatically.

Original Quotation: Jones continues to explain, “No proof that pesticides were not used.”

Corrected use: Jones continues to explain that there is “no proof that pesticides were not used.”

Substitutions, Additions, and Omissions in Quotations:

Quotations can be modified; however, proper punctuation must be used to indicate the substitutions, additions, and omissions.  Any such substitutions, additions or omissions should not result in quoting out of context where the meaning of the quote is changed.

  • Brackets, also called square brackets, are used to show that the original quote has been modified.
  • An ellipsis (three periods in a row) is used to show that words have been omitted.

Original Quotation: 

"Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Quotation Modified to Substitute an Uppercase for a Lowercase: 

Pinto acknowledges that blended families can also offer positive aspects. Pinto indicates that “[o]ne example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family.”

See how a small letter o was substituted for the capital O since using the word that changes what is in the quote to a continuation of a sentence started outside the quote.

Quotation Modified for Clarity: 

Pinto continues, “Another [advantage] is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment.”

The word advantage was added to make the subject clear.

Quotation Modified to Eliminate Unnecessary Words: 

Pinto explains, “One example is the increase in available emotional support … from the larger, more extended family.”

See how the ellipsis shows the omission of words.

Length of Quotes:

While research essays should primarily be your own ideas and analysis of sources, sometimes, such as when the author’s words cannot be adequately paraphrased to convey the intended meaning,  it is appropriate to include a long quote.

If you are quoting for more than four lines (not sentences), you need to set the quote off from the text.  Indent the quote one inch from the left margin, and do not surround the quote with quotation marks. The quote should be double spaced as with the rest of the paper.

Helen Keller, though born both deaf and blind, was no coward. This can be seen in her views on the worth of life:

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing

Definition

Paraphrasing is a restatement of the sources ideas into your own words. Quotations should only be used in paraphrases when there are special words or wording that cannot be paraphrased. Because the same information that the author provided is being used, a paraphrase is often as long as the original source. Since paraphrases are information from a source, every sentence with paraphrased information must cite the source even if exact words are not quoted.

Even through a sentence with paraphrased information must cite the source, any exact words from the source must be in quotation marks.  Failing to use quotation marks on exact words is plagiarism even if the sentence give credit to the source.

Proper note-taking while doing research will help avoid plagiarism.  Notes should include quotation marks around any exact words taken from sources.

Another problem students may have with paraphrasing is that the language used in the paraphrase should be an accurate accounting of the source’s ideas. Good paraphrasing doesn’t just capture the ideas of the source. They don’t include your own opinions or omit important information. Just like in a quotation, be sure to either introduce the source at the beginning of your paraphrase or cite the source at the end of the sentence so that the reader knows these are not your ideas, but ideas from your source.

Jones thinks the answer to reducing water usage is to raise water rates.

OR – The answer to reducing water usage is to raise water rates (Jones).

A Good Paraphrase:

  1. has all the main ideas included with no new ideas added.
  2. is different enough from the original to be your own writing.
  3. refers directly to the original source

Quotation: 

“Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever-changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Unacceptable Paraphrase: 

Step-families have advantages too. One is that there is more emotional support when there are more people. Also, children can cope better with life if they start dealing with problems when they’re young.

  • This paraphrase uses too much of the original’s wording and sentence structure.
  • It does not properly introduce or cite the original source.
  • It does not accurately convey the ideas of the source.

Improved Paraphrase: 

Although there are many criticisms leveled against mixed families, Pinto gives some reasons for hope. First, Pinto says that blended families are often larger and can provide more “emotional support” and other aid for the children. Pinto continues by explaining that because of the emotional and social complications that arise in a blended family, children are more able to deal with the complexities of today’s changing world.

Summarizing

Summarizing

General Information

A summary is similar to a paraphrase in that you again use your own words.   This time, however, not all the details are included.  You must decide what the source’s main points are and condense them into a few concise sentences. For this reason summaries are often much shorter than the original source. Summaries should not use exact quotes from the source except in those unusual situations where there is a special word or phrase that cannot be expressed in your own words.

Like all of the other methods of incorporating source information into your paper, it is important to not plagiarize, either by forgetting to quote the original if you use the same words, or by not clearly introducing the information as having come from the source.

A Good Summary:

  1. contains only the most important information
  2. is concise; it should always be shorter than the original
  3. paraphrases any information taken from the source
  4. refers directly to the original source
  5. does not use exact wording (quotes) except for special word or words that cannot be expressed otherwise

Original Quotation: 

“Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).

Unacceptable Summary: 

Step-families have advantages too. One is that there is more emotional support when there are more people. And there are other resources because there are more family members.  Also, children can cope better with life if they start dealing with problems when they’re young.

  • This summary contains more than just the most important information.
  • It is not concise
  • It does not refer back to the source

Improved Summary: Pinto believes that blended families can provide more emotional support and resources and help children learn to cope more effectively in a complex world.

Important Notes

Separation of Personal Feelings:

Sometimes, it is difficult to separate our personal feelings about the content of a source when we paraphrase or summarize.  It is critical to be able to objectively paraphrase and summarize.  Research is not about finding sources which support your position.  Research is about finding the variety of opinions on the issue, evaluating them, and then deciding what your position is.  You will be reading and using information you do not agree with.

Use of Summaries in Research Papers:

Since a summary contains sentences with information from a source, each sentence must cite the source if you use a summary in your research paper.  However, there are times when you have an assignment in a class which asks for a summary.  In that case, the instructor may not require that the source be cited in each sentence as long as it is given credit at the beginning or end and there is no question it is a summary of a source. If the assignment asks for an analysis of a particular source along with your opinion, then each sentence with information from the source must cite the source in order to distinguish it from your analysis.  This is not strictly a summary since summaries contain only key ideas from the source and not your opinion or analysis.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s ideas or words and presenting them as your own. Even when you put those ideas in your own words, they still were created by someone else, and that person must be given credit for them. It is not ethical to take someone else’s ideas or words and use them as though they are your own even if that other person gives you permission to put your name on his or her work.

Of course, many of the ideas we have probably come from somewhere else, and it would be impossible to try to separate out our own original ideas. Plagiarism comes in where we knowingly take and use or allow others to use our creations and put their name on it.

Copyright is the legal ownership right a person or organization has to various types of creative works such as art, music, and literature. A person or organization does not have to create the work of art to own the copyright. When a copyrighted item is used without permission or credit, it is considered a form of stealing. Often, there are fees for using copyrighted material.

How Do I Avoid Plagiarism?

You avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the source by naming (citing) the source and including a bibliography – a list of references – at the end. This is called documenting sources. There are many different sets of rules for citing sources depending upon the publication. These are called a documentation system or a style system. A style system includes rules for page format, in-text citations (cites in the body of the paper), and the bibliography (list of references at the end.

Newspapers use AP (Associated Press) style. Academic publications such as MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) are examples of citation styles commonly used in schools.

When Do I Have to Cite a Source?

  • Whenever you put information from a source into a sentence whether you use exact words in a quote (must use quotation marks) or put the information into your own words (paraphrase), you have to cite the source in the sentence.
  • It is not all right to have several sentences with information from a source and then cite the source. A reader has no way of knowing how many, if any at all, of the previous sentences have information from the source.
  • In order to avoid any issue of plagiarism, you should cite the source even when it is information you already know.
  • Information of common knowledge does not have to be cited. Common knowledge is commonly known and accepted ideas or facts.

Unintentional plagiarism

When a person doesn’t realize that documentation is required or tries to properly document but does not, it is called unintentional plagiarism. Unfortunately, the results could be the same as for intentional plagiarism such as not getting any credit for a paper and/or failing the course and/or disciplinary proceedings which could affect your status in a school.

MLA Documentation

MLA Documentation

What does MLA stand for?

MLA is the abbreviation for Modern Language Association. Dedicated to language and literature, MLA is a professional organization whose members are comprised of teachers, scholars, and librarians. Other similar organizations in different disciplines are the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Council of Biology Educators (CBE). All such organizations publish journals with articles about topics of interest in the discipline. All created a style guide governing how articles submitted for publication are formatted and how they give credit to the sources. The term MLA is used to refer both to the association and to the rules in the MLA style guide which is called the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. This tutorial uses the 9th edition.

What is the purpose for developing a set of rules for style and citations?

In order to have uniformity of presentation and give proper credit to the sources used in the articles, each organization has a different set of rules called a style guide. They include rules on how to give credit to sources in the body of the paper and how to list the sources at the end of the paper, on the Works Cited page. Proper credit must be given to the sources used in the paper in order to avoid plagiarism. These style rules also include instructions for page setup such as margins, font, line spacing, and headers along with mechanics of writing such as punctuation.

Why is MLA called a parenthetical documentation system?

MLA style uses parentheses to cite sources.  This is why it is called a parenthetical documentation system. To cite a source, the last name of the author (or the title of the article in quotation marks if no author is named) and the page number (or indicator of place in work), are used in sentences that contain a quote, paraphrasing, or a summary. One way of citing is to put the last name (or title in quotes if no author) and the page number in parentheses at the end of a sentence with information from a source whether it is a quote, paraphrase, or summary. If the last name of the author is used in the sentence as part of a narrative in-text citation, then only the page number is put in parentheses, if available.

Ironically, even though MLA was developed where use of parentheses was required, with the advent of the Internet, sometime parentheses are not used. 

Why do schools require using MLA style?

Academic institutions such as high schools, colleges, and universities have courses which require training in a style system such as MLA in order to avoid plagiarism and to train students in preparing research papers suitable for publication in scholarly journals.

 

MLA Page Format

MLA Page Format

Important Note: Unless your instructor gives you a template, don't use an MLA template or tool since there are commonly errors.   

Overview

  1. 1” margins
  2. Times New Roman 12 black font
  3. Align left
  4. Header in upper right with name and page number: Jones 1
  5. Line Spacing – double throughout
  6. Tab in the first line of a paragraph ½” or .5
  7. Heading in upper left
  8. Title centered after heading
  9. Works Cited, if any, on a new page

Margins

  1. 1” margins – top, bottom, left, right.  Some defaults are 1.25″ left and right.
  2. Margins are not set in the Paragraph box. In Word or Works, margins are set in Page Layout or in File/Page Setup/Margins.

Font

  1. Times New Roman 12 black font.
  2. Do not use bold or underlining.
  3. Do not use all caps except for an abbreviations such as NATO, AIDS.
  4. Do not use italics unless there is a rule that says to use italics.
  5. Check default and reset default if necessary.  Your instructor may accept a different font style: however, Times New Roman 12 Black is a standard setting in school and business.

Alignment

  1. Left align – this is the usual default setting.
  2. Do not block or justify where the right margin is even.
  3. Alignment can be set in the Paragraph box if the icon is not visible.

See Related Documents on right sidebar for an image of alignment settings.

Line Spacing

  1. Double space – and only double space throughout, even after the heading and around the title, if any.
  2. Check default settings in the Paragraph box and reset per instructions under Paragraph Settings below.

Paragraph Settings

Some programs such have defaults in the Paragraph box which interfere with proper double spacing.

The settings in the Paragraph dialogue box should be as follows to have proper double spacing.

  1. Indentation (on top) should be set at 0 left and 0 right.
  2. Spacing (on the lower left) should be set to 0 Before and 0 After.
  3. Line Spacing (on the lower right) should be set to double.
  4. Check the box that says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.”
  5. Click Default (at the bottom) and select Yes to change defaults.

     In Google docs, you can change Paragraph settings under Spacing to 0 next to Before and 0 next to After by going into the double spacing tool and clicking Custom Settings.  You will have to select (highlight) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making the change once the paper is typed.

     In Pages, you can change the Paragraph settings by clicking on Format on the top navigation bar and then Paragraph. Remember that you have to highlight (select) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making change in Paragraph once the paper is typed.

First Line of a Paragraph

  1. Tab in the first line of a paragraph 1/2″ or .5 from the left margin.
  2. The Tab default is usually at this setting.  If not, reset defaults.

Spacing after a period or other end punctuation

Unless your instructor advises otherwise, you may use one or two spaces after a period as long as the use is consistent.

Title Page

  1. If the instructor asks for a title page, prepare the title page as per the assignment instructions.
  2. Do not use a heading on the first page if a title page is required.

Create a header in the upper right corner using the Header tool with your last name and page number.

  1. In Word 2007 or higher, click Insert/Header/Blank. Do not choose any option with lines, boxes, or other font or color.
  2. Delete Type text
  3. Click Home and align right. Your cursor should be on the right side.
  4. Type in your last name only. Then hit the space bar once. This will put a space between your last name and page number.
  5. After you hit the space bar, hit Insert/Page # to insert pages. Do not manually type in the page number.
  6. Do not use the word page or any abbreviation of the word such a pg. or p. between your last name and the actual page number: Jones 2.
  7. While MLA format calls for the header to appear on the first page, some instructors may ask that there be no header on the first page since your name is already there. To remove the header from the first page, check Different first page in the Header tool.
  8. These instructions may work for higher versions of Works.
  9. For lower versions of Word or Works, click View/Header and Footer to get into the Header tool.
  10. If you are unable to follow on your computer, your program should have a Help button to give directions on how to insert a header.

Instructions for Creating Header in Office 365:

  1. Click Insert/Header.
  2. Tab over to the third box on the right.
  3. Under Home, click the align right button so that your cursor is all the way on the right side.
  4. Hit the space bar and then click Insert Page # and click the box with the number in the upper right.
  5. Click on the body of the paper to get out of the Header box.
  6. You will not see your header in the default view which is the edit view.
  7. You can click View and then Reading View on the left.

Heading

  1. Type a heading in the upper left corner of the first page unless your instructor asks for a title page. Do not use the Header tool to create a heading.
  2. Type the heading as follows: your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date (in military style – day month year – no commas) double spaced on separate lines.
  3. Do not use commas in the date.  Months should be abbreviated if longer than four letters: Sept., Oct., and so on. Here is an example: 14 Oct. 2009
  4. Do not indent the heading.
  5. Your instructor may request different information to be typed into the heading.

Title

  1. After the heading, center the title of the paper or name of assignment.

  2. Do not use bold, underlining, or a different font style or size for the title.
  3. Do not use quotation marks or italics unless the title of the paper includes the title of a published work since short, published works must be in quotation marks, and long, published works must be in italics.
  4. Remember that in MLA format, the requirement is to double space and only double space throughout.
  5. There should not be any more than a double space before or after the title or name of assignment.

Works Cited

If a Works Cited page is required for your assignment, at the end of the body of the paper, click Insert/Page Break or Insert/Break/Page Break – however your computer gives options – to get to the top of a new page to do the Works Cited.

  1. Do not use the Enter key to get to the next page.
  2. Use the same settings including double spacing throughout except that the first line of each source must start at the left margin and the second and any subsequent lines must be indented ½”.
  3. This is called a hanging indent.
  4. To create a hanging indent, make sure to type your sources one under the other hitting Enter at the end of each source.
  5. Then, highlight the Works Cited list and go into the Paragraph dialogue box.
  6. Under Special, select Hanging from the drop-down menu. Once selected, the default under By should be .5″.
  7. Remember that your list has to be alphabetized and the page must have the words Works Cited centered on top.

Troubleshooting Common Page Setup Problems

  1. The whole page is tabbed in.  There is an error in settings in the Indentation Box in Paragraph. Highlight paper and change to 0 in both Left and Right under Indentation in the Paragraph dialogue box.
  2. There is no top margin even though you set top margin for 1”. You’ve accidentally hidden your white space.  Position your cursor at the top of the page until you see a double line.  Then, double click.
  3. The same page number is appearing on every page in the header in the upper right.You have typed in a page number instead of using Insert Page #.
  4. I can’t get my header over to the right without using the tab key. Click to Home, position your cursor at the beginning of your last name, then click the align right button.
  5. The spacing between lines seems larger than double space. You have not reset the setting in Paragraph under Spacing on lower left to 0 before Before and 0 before After.  You have to highlight the whole page before changing settings for them to take place on the page.
  6. There’s an extra line between paragraphs or every time I hit the Enter key. You have not checked the box which says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style. You have to highlight the whole page before changing settings for them to take place on the page.

Other Resources for Your Setup Problems

  • Help tool in your program.  Generally, there’s a tool or a link to a tool.  Just Search your problem.
  • Online at website of your program.  Word and other programs have help pages on their site.
  • The PHSC Technical Support link: See Resource Links on the right side page for Technical Support or call 727 816-3732.
  • Just Google?  Maybe.  However, just searching around on the Internet open files and here and there is one way to pick up a virus, and you don’t know how reliable the source is.  You are better of getting help with the first listed methods. Never download a help program.

MLA In-Text Citations

MLA In-Text Citations

How to cite sources

One or two authors:

See information below about using a page number. Sometimes, there is no page number to use.

Use the last name of the author and the page number. Note that there is nothing between the last name and page number.

(Anderson 50) 

If there are two authors, use both last names even if both authors have the same last name.

(Sampson and Bernini)  - Note that the word and is used and not an ampersand (&).

When there are two authors, note that even though both names are used to cite the source, it is still one source and should have a singular verb when used in a signal phrase: Sampson and Bernini says, not say. (The source - it - says.)

More than two people named as authors

Alvarez et al. (et al. is the Latin abbreviation for and others.). When more than two, individual names many not be listed even in the Works Cited. There is no longer a choice to list all the authors.

More than one source written by the same author

When you have more than one source from the same author, you must distinguish between them in the citation by adding the title: (Mirando, “Dinosaurs”) and (Mirando, “Jurassic Wilderness”).

If you name the author in the sentence, just put the title in parentheses in quotation marks:

According to Mirando, there are multiple theories for the extinction of the dinosaurs (“Dinosaurs”).

Different authors with the same last name

If you find two sources where the authors, have the same last name, obviously, using only the last name to cite the source will not clearly identify the source. In this case, use the first name as well:  (Gonzalez, Jorge) or (Gonzalez, Marisol).

When no person named as author

Sometimes, a source has no person named as author. This is actually common in articles in encyclopedias and even newspapers, newswires, or news services such as The Associated Press. In that case, just use the title of the article or page, not the publication or website.

Occasionally, an organization or group is listed as the author: Mayo Clinic Staff.  Then, the author is considered to be Mayo Clinic Staff. However, this applies only when a group or organization is actually listed as author. There are some special rule with government publications, but generally, the format applies. Start with the title of the publication when no specific agency is named as author. The agency will be listed as publisher.

Here is an example of using a title:

("Dinosaur Extinction")

Articles are considered short, published works, so titles of articles or pages from a website must be in quotation marks.

If the title to an article is longer than three or four words, shorten (don't use a key word or words) the title to the first noun. “Crime: Risks for Children of Non-Biological Parents Greater” should be shortened to “Crime.” “Organic Foods: Are They Really Healthier?” should be shortened to “Organic Foods” since Foods is the first noun. (Note that the question mark is dropped on a shortened title.) An article with no author which is entitled "What Is Gene Therapy?" should be cited as "What Is Gene Therapy?" since it is not longer than three or four words, and the word therapy is the first noun anyway. The question mark is kept since the title is not shortened.) By retraining the first word(s), the reader can look alphabetically to the Works Cited list and easily find the source.

Don't forget to drop any period or comma that would ordinarily be next to a question mark or exclamation point. An example of dropping the comma is as follows:  According to "What Is Gene Therapy?" there are several approaches.  Ordinarily, there would be a comma after the introductory wording According to "What Is Gene Therapy?"  However, since the grammar rule is to drop any comma or period next to a question mark or exclamation point, it would be dropped.

Also, the first letter of the first word and all other words in titles has to be capitalized in MLA style even if they are not so in the article itself except the following:

  1. articles (a, an, the),
  2. BOYFANS (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so) – coordinating conjunctions, and
  3. prepositions (such as in, at, of, around, over, and so on).

Here’s an example of a title with words that should not start with a capital: “Genetic Manipulation of Food Has Some Scientists in the United States Worried”

Many sources are not in MLA style, so the titles are not following MLA format. Using capitals which are not capitals in the original is not a violation of the rule that you can’t change what’s in a quote. Using quotation marks for titles of short, published works is a different use of quotation marks than for quotes. (By the way, you can change a quote in quotation marks by putting brackets [   ] around your changes as previously mentioned.)

All caps are not used in MLA style except for some abbreviations such as NATO or AIDS.  When there are all caps in a title, change to upper and lower case as otherwise appropriate

When you are using a specific article or page in a website, your source is the specific article or page and not the website. 

If an article or page is in a website or newspaper and there is no author specifically named, use the title of the article or page as further described. The title of a source in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or other reference book  is the word you are looking up. For example, if you are looking up the word sunspots, the title of the article is “sunspots” or “Sunspots,” however it is written in the source.

Here is an example of how to use the title to cite the source:

“The most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris into the air blocking the sunlight” (“Dinosaur Extinction” 587).

The reference to the source could be in the sentence:

“Dinosaur Extinction” explains that “[t]he most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris into the air blocking the sunlight” (587).

Punctuation and Quotes

Signal phrases (words that say who says the quote) with full sentence quotes

There is no rule to use a comma to put a comma before or after words that are in quotation marks. Quoted words must follow the same rules for punctuation as words that are not in quotation marks. The only special rule there is to separate a signal phrase from a sentence quote with a comma.

Signal phrases are phrases that identify the source of a full sentence quote.

According to Anderson, “While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50).

The words According to Anderson are a signal phrase. Hernandez says, Khan states, and Dubrovsky agrees are all examples of signal phrases. 

Note that there is a comma separating the signal phrase from the sentence quote and that the first letter of the first word of the quote starts with a capital since it is a sentence. 

The signal phrase could be at the end of the sentence.

“While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies,” according to Anderson (50).

See how there is still a comma to separate the signal phrase from the sentence quote.

Note that the comma goes before and not after the end quotation mark.

Also, see how the period follows the parentheses and does not go before the parentheses. Parenthetical documentation is part of the sentence.

The signal phrase could be in the middle of the sentence.

“While tattoos may be popular today,” according to Anderson, “few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50).

Signal phrases are limited to words that identify the source of the quote such as the following: Jones says, According to Chan, “Dinosaur Extinction” claims.

The addition of other words such as the word that changes a signal phrase to just the beginning of a sentence that happens to contain some quoted words (even thought they might be a sentence) so what is in the quotation marks is a continuation of the sentence and is not considered a separate sentence.  In these cases, there should not be a comma, and the first letter of the quote should not be capitalized since it is not considered to be the first word in a sentence. Here is an example:

Anderson says that “[w]hile tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50). 

Note that there is no comma and no capital when the word that is used.

Partial sentence quotes; distinguishing a signal phrase

Sometimes a sentence includes words that identify the source or quoted words, but the quote is not a complete sentence. This is a partial sentence quote, and the words that identify the source are not considered a signal phrase to be separated by a comma. They are just part of a sentence that happens to begin outside the quote.

Anderson says that tattoos have been used "for thousands of years."

Remember that a signal phrase tells the source of a sentence quote. If there is not sentence quote, there is no signal phrase. Without a sentence quote, the words Anderson says (and other signal phrases wording) are just part of the sentence. 

Anderson says that the interest in tattoos in the West has never been so popular. 

See how there is no comma and no capital. The words Anderson says are the subject and verb of the sentence. Also see that the word that is used and not just Anderson says the interest....

More than one source with the same title and no person named as author

If you have more than one source with the same title, put the name of the publication in italics separated by a comma after the title of the article: “Farmed Salmon,” Aquaculture Journal and “Farmed Salmon,” Washington State Journal. The idea is to be sure they are distinguished from one another.

It is preferable not to include the word that after a signal phrase which introduces a sentence quote.

When the same information comes from more than one source

Sometimes, the same information is in more than one of your sources. If you are paraphrasing instead of quoting, just identify both sources separated by a semicolon in one parentheses: (“Dinosaur Extinction”; Jones).

(Note that the semicolon is placed after the end quotation mark whereas periods and commas are placed before the end quotation mark when there is supposed to be a period or comma next to an end quotation mark.)

Quoting a quote from a source (indirect quotations)

Sometimes, other people are quoted in your source. This is called an indirect quotation. When we use a quote that is quoted in the source, use the abbreviation qtd. in to let the reader know which source the quote you are quoting comes from. Say, for example, Jones wrote the article you found, but she quotes Herman Smith, and you want to use what Herman Smith says.

Say this is the wording in the source:  Jones gives information provided by Professor Herman Smith.  Smith says, "There are more dangers in the depth of the oceans that we know about."

Here’s a couple of ways to cite that information.

According to Smith, “There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (qtd. in Jones). This abbreviation qtd. in means that this quote is quoted in the article written by Jones. See how only Smith's words are actually quoted, so the quotation marks go around those words. 

Here is another way Smith's words can be quoted.

"Smith says, 'There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about'" (qtd. in Jones). 

In this phrasing, since the entire sentence is quoted, there is a quote within a quote.  Single quotation marks must be used when you have to use quotation marks inside quotation marks.  Note that there regular double quotation marks around all of the exact words from the source and single quotation marks around the exact words from Smith.

“There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (Herman Smith, qtd. in Jones). Here, the person who is quoted is named in the citation instead of in the sentence.

Including the name of the person being quoted is not required:

“There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (qtd. in Jones).

It is optional to include the name of the person quoted in the source in parentheses. If the name of the person quoted is used in the parentheses, then it should be the full name.

Use of the words qtd. in only applies when someone else is quoted in the source.

If there is no person named as author, use the title of the article or page to refer to the source. When you are using a specific article or page from a website, your source is the specific article or page and not the website. It’s like finding an article in a newspaper. Your source is the article, not the newspaper.

According to Smith, “Some earthquakes are caused by methane gas explosions” (qtd. in “Underwater Dangers”).

“Some earthquakes are caused by methane gas explosions” (Smith, qtd. in “Underwater Dangers”).

The reader has to be told which source your quote is coming from.

Length of quotations

Even though there is a sentence quote for these examples, sometimes more than one sentence is quoted. The method of documenting is still the same.

If, however, the quote is more than four lines from the source, you must indent the quote ten spaces (1”) from the left-hand margin. In this situation, quotation marks are not used, and the period goes before the parentheses. Here are more than four lines (not sentences) from a source:

“The theory that dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate changes from a huge meteor impact has far reaching implications. There is always the possibility such an impact will happen again. There are many meteors that come close to earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists closely watch to identify potential problems. There is some discussion about an organized effort to launch a missile to either explode such meteors or defect them away from our orbit” (Jones).

Here is the quote indented ten spaces (1”) from the left margin:

The theory that dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate changes from a huge meteor impact has far reaching implications. There is always the possibility such an impact will happen again. There are many meteors that come close to earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists closely watch to identify potential problems. There is some discussion about an organized effort to launch a missile to either explode such meteors or defect them away from our orbit.  (Jones)

Paraphrasing and summarizing requires citations

Quoting is only one way of bringing information into a paper from a source. You can also paraphrase or summarize which is to put the source’s ideas into your own words. Quotation marks are not used, but you still have to give credit to the source the same way as with quotes. It is still plagiarism if you don’t use MLA or other documentation for paraphrased information. Each and every sentence with information from a source – whether you quote or paraphrase – must cite the source.

Use of Ellipsis (…) to show omitted words or sentences from a quote

You may remember seeing a series of three periods … in a quote. This is called an ellipsis and is used to represent an omission. Even though you may omit something from the beginning of a sentence you quote from, the general rule is not to use an ellipsis at the beginning of a quote. They are generally used in the middle of a quote to take out unnecessary words in a sentence or between sentences which are being quoted. You may use an ellipsis at the end of a quote if you don’t complete a sentence.

You may also use an ellipsis between quoted sentences to indicate that a sentence or sentences were omitted.

Identifying Internet sources

Increasingly, the Internet is being used for research. Because everything looks the same on the screen, it is important to figure out what exactly you are looking at. Sometimes, you are using information from a website that only has a couple of pages with no named author and which are clearly written for that website. In that case, your source is the website. Nowadays, these limited websites are not very common. Remember that the point of a citation system is to tell the reader where you found the information so that the reader can access the source.  In a website that has more than a couple of pages, the reader would have difficulty finding the information.

When you are using an article or articles posted to a website or a specific page or pages in a website, your source is the particular article(s) or pages(s) just like an article in a newspaper and not the website. If there is a separate author, refer to the source by the author’s last name, just as with any other source. If there is no named author, refer to the source by the title of the article or page in quotation marks. 

Page Numbers: When and how to use; When you don’t know the actual page number

The requirement to use a page number in MLA style refers to the actual page number in the original hard copy publication. The rule to use a page number does not apply to poetry or plays. See section below for details.

Sources created only for an online presentation do not have the type of page numbers to which the rule to use page numbers applies even when we have to click through a sequence of “pages.” The reason we should not use these website page numbers is that the pagination does not necessarily appear the same on everyone’s computer. What one person sees as page two could be page three on someone else’s computer.

When an article that was originally printed in a hard copy publication is posted, usually, there is no page number since it is an html format. If it is uploaded as a .pdf, the page number will appear.

When we don’t know the page number the particular information was printed on in the original hard copy publication, don’t use a page number.

If an Internet source numbers the paragraphs, you can use the paragraph number. However, if not numbered already in the web page, you should not start counting paragraphs to use a paragraph number.

The custom is that if you know a page number, you should not repeat the author’s name if you are using information from the same source in the same paragraph unless you use information from another source in between since you could just use the page number. However, if you don’t have a page number to use, you’ll have to repeat the author’s last name or title of the article (not the publication the article was printed in) for all references to that particular source.

When you have several sentences with information from a source, you should vary how you refer to the source: According to Jones, “Sasquatch is absolutely a real creature.” She goes on to say that they are intelligent enough to have hidden from humans. “The reason no skeletal remains have been found is that Sasquatch bury their dead” (Jones).

Since sometimes there is no page number or paragraph number to reference, you might not have a parentheses at all if the source is referred to as part of the sentence. The Internet has created situations where we don’t use parentheses even though MLA is called a parenthetical documentation system.

No Page Numbers: Poems and Plays

Poems

The MLA rule to use a page number for sources that were originally published in hard copy and for which we know the exact page number does not apply to poems.

In citing poetry, line numbers are used instead: (“Fire and Ice” 1). If the name of the poem is already mentioned in the sentence or it is clear that this quote is from this poem, use just the line number: (1).

When quoting two lines of poetry (not sentences), use a slash between the lines: “Some say the world will end in fire/Some say in ice” (1-2).

When quoting more than two lines, indent one inch from the left, write the lines as they appear in the poem (one under the other), do not use quotation marks, and the period goes before the parenthetical documentation:

Some say the world will end in fire

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.  (“Fire and Ice” 1-4)

If the title is mentioned previously and it is clear the quote is from this poem, use just the line numbers.

If the poem is divided into sections such as chapters or parts, then identify in the citation: (Odyssey 2.6) represent chapter or book 2, line 6.

Plays

The MLA rule to use a page number for sources that were originally published in hard copy and for which we know the exact page number does not apply to plays.

Cite the act , scene, and line number is used: Macbeth 2.1.13 referring to act. scene.line.

If lines from more than character are quoted, indent 10 spaced (1″) from the left starting a new line for each character, and indicate the character:

Mrs. Hale:  (stiffly) There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm.

County Attorney:  To be sure. And yet (with a little bow to her) I know there

     are some Dickson County farmhouses which do not have such roller towels.

Mrs. Hale:  Those towels get dirty awful quick.  Men’s hand aren’t always as

     clear as they might be.  (Trifles 32-34)

Note that since this is a one-act play, only the line numbers are used.

Here is a quote from a play that has acts and scenes:

Hamlet:  Methinks it is like a weasel.

Polonius:  It is back’d like a weasel.

Hamlet:  Or like a whale.  (Ham. 5.2.330-33)

Important Details:

  1. Use last name only when there is a person or persons listed as author(s) - no first name or p., pg., or other reference to the word page.
  2. Don't use the words source, article, or any other words to refer to a source other than the last name or the title of the article when no person listed as source.
  3. The page number refers to the page number the specific information was printed on in the original publication, not a page number assigned in a website. When the page number is not known, you just don’t list a page number. Sources posted to the Internet from a hard copy or pages on an web only site will not have a page number as part of the citation.
  4. The end quotation mark goes after the words quoted, not the parentheses. The parenthetical documentation is part of the sentence, but it is not part of the quote.
  5. There is no comma or period before the parentheses except for the end quotation mark. An exclamation point or question mark which is part of the quote is used.
  6. If you name the source in the sentence, you should not put the name in the parentheses. 
  7. The source must be named in each and every sentence with information from a source whether you use exact words or put the information into your own words. If you don't, it is plagiarism. It is not all right to have more than one sentence from a source and then cite the source.The reader had no way of knowing how many, if any at all, of the previous sentences are from the source.

MLA Works Cited

MLA Works Cited

What is a Works Cited page?

The Works Cited page is the list of sources at the end of the paper. It is called by different names such as Bibliography or List of Sources in different citation systems.

How do I format a Works Cited page?

General Rules

To get to a new page for the Works Cited, position your cursor at the end of your paper and click Insert/Page Break.  This may appear as Insert/Break/Page Break on some computers. The idea is not to use the Enter key to get to a new page.

The page setup and formatting are required parts of the MLA Works Cited page. The Works Cited page must have the same margins, font, line spacing, and header as the rest of the paper. The Works Cited does not have a heading in the upper left since it is simply the last page of the paper.

The sources must be listed with a hanging indent which is where the first line starts at the left margin and any subsequent line of the source is indented. It is like on reversed paragraph. 

You should take a look at the sample Works Cited pages in Related Pages on the right sidebar.

How to Create a Hanging Indent

The sources must be listed in a hanging indent with the first line of each source beginning at the left margin and any second and subsequent line is indented. There is a tool for creating a hanging indent in Word. Type in your sources according to the MLA format for that source explained below and alphabetize them. Just left align and hit the Enter key at the end of each source. Then, highlight the list and click Paragraph/Special and scroll to Hanging indent. Click OK.

If you are using Google docs, you may have to set the hanging indent with the pointers in the ruler to adjust the indentation.  

See links to the Sample Works Cited pages in Related Pages on the right sidebar.

How do I list a Works Cited source?

The PHSC library along with English faculty has created a list of examples of source in MLA style. See Related Pages on the right sidebar.

General Rules

The list must be alphabetical. It should not be numbered.

The general format for listing a source is:

author’s name (last name first).  title of the source. publication information

The problems arise with the details. 

Author

If there is a person named as an author, list last name, first name:

Carlyle, James.

See how there is a comma after the last name. See that there is a period after the first name. Sections of a Works Cited listing are separated by periods.

When there two authors, the first author is listed last name, first name followed by a comma and the word and. The second author is listed first name first.

Carlyle, James, and Phillip P. Harper.

If there are more than two authors named, use the first listed last name and et al. which is the Latin abbreviation for and others: Carlyle, James, et al.

If there is no person listed author, the listing starts with the title.

More than one source by the same author

When there is more than one source from the same author, do not repeat the author’s name.  Use three dashes, a period, and two spaces in place of the author: – – – .  See Sample Works Cited List with Various Sources-8th-ed for an example.

Title

Generally, sources are either books or articles from magazines, books, or journals. Commonly, the source may be an article or document in a website.

If the source is a book, the title is listed in italics. Titles of long, published works are put in italics. Note that there is a period following the title.

War and Peace.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. War and Peace.

If the title is an article or a document or page in a website (a smaller publication which is published in a larger publication), the rule is that the title has to be in quotation marks.

Marino, Catherine. “Implications of Piaget’s Theory in the Learning Environment.”

Important note about capitalization in titles

In MLA style, the first letter of important words in the title are capitalized even when they are not capitalized in the source itself.  Important words are all words except for articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so), and one-syllable prepositions (of, at, on) unless any of these words begin the title.

See that the period at the end comes before the end (closing) quotation mark.

Marino, Catherine. “Implications of Piaget’s Theory in the in the Learning Environment.” Social Behavior. (See how the title of the journal is in italics.)

Publication Information

Publication information consists of information such as volume, issue, date and/or year, publisher, city of publication, year of copyright, name of website, creator/owner of website, name of database, name of subscription service, URL (preferably a permalink or doi when available for sources in databases), and date of access.  

Some databases are supplied through subscription services such as EBSCO and Gale.  EBSCO and Gale are not databases and should not be included as the name for a database.

The eighth edition (2016) of the MLA Handbook has a number of changes about publication information including using URLs. The problem is that not all publication information should be listed for all sources. Which information should be included and how to list that information depends upon the source.

In the handouts on the PHSC library page called MLA Documentation and Format – list of examples – 8th edition (2016), there is a table of contents at the beginning showing where the sample formats for different types of information can be found. The trick here is to determine what type of source you have in order to look up the proper format.  The table of contents listings are direct links to the examples.

A note about sources from Electronic Library Resources: 

When you click into Electronic Library Resources, you will be taken to the A-Z Databases page. From there you can look through databases alphabetically or by subject. You can also click on the Library Catalog and search for books as well as articles, films and books on CD. There are also links to various helpful LibGuides in each subject area offered by the College.

Many courses will require using the Electronic Library Resources for academic research. Many of these sources are databases of articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, and other copyrighted, reviewed, and professional prepared sources which are different from the Internet where anybody can post anything. Some sources on the Internet seem as though they have good information such as Wikipedia, but that is a wiki where people who are not necessarily professionals in the field can post information. By its own disclosure, some pages are in a state of development and have not been reviewed for accuracy or presentation of all side on a scholarly debate.

Students are subscribed to our library resources as part of their student fees. There is a direct link in Canvas on the left sidebar: Electronic Library Resources.

For research or citation and formatting assistance, please reach out to one of our librarians at any of our five campuses. https://libguides.phsc.edu/contact

 

APA Documentation

APA Documentation

What does APA stand for?

APA is the abbreviation for American Psychological Association, which is a professional organization whose members are comprised of teachers and scholars in the field of psychology. Other similar organizations in different disciplines are the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Council of Biology Educators (CBE). All such organizations publish journals with articles about topics of interest in the discipline. All created a style guide governing how articles submitted for publication are formatted and how they give credit to the sources. Many disciplines in the behavioral and social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and some sciences require APA style for publication in their journals.

The term APA is used to refer both to the association and to the rules in the APA style guide which is called the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This tutorial uses the 7th edition.

What is the purpose for developing a set of rules for style and citations?

In order to have uniformity of presentation and give proper credit to the sources used in the articles, each organization has a different set of rules called a style guide. They include rules on how to give credit to sources in the body of the paper and how to list the sources at the end in a bibliography (a list of sources). Proper credit must be given to the sources used in the paper in order to avoid plagiarism. These style rules also include instructions for page setup such as margins, font, line spacing, and headers along with mechanics of writing such as punctuation. APA also includes rules for organization of a paper including title page, abstract, main body (introduction, method, results, discussion), and references. Appendices, if any, follow the references. Papers which report the results of studies or experiments typically use this organization.

Typically, students are asked to do a research paper which requires doing research to find an answer to a question and then writing a paper. The paper can either be a review of existing studies or can also be an analysis of a new study or experiment done by the student. The APA format for a literature review (which is essentially summary and evaluation of research data) consists of a title page, possibly an abstract if the instructors requests one, the main body (which is a survey of the literature), and a list of references. There should be an introductory paragraph (the word introduction is not used) with a thesis statement which answers the research question at the end, body paragraphs which prove or perhaps disprove the thesis, and a concluding paragraph which sums up the proof and restates the thesis.

Why is APA called an author-date method of citation?

Generally, APA style uses the author and the year of publication to give credit to the particular study or source in sentences that contain a quote, a paraphrase, or a summary with information from the source.

Why do schools require using APA style?

Academic institutions such as high schools, colleges, and universities have courses which require training in a style system such as APA in order to avoid plagiarism and to train students in preparing research papers suitable for publication in scholarly journals.

APA Page Format

APA Page Format

APA Page Format

Overview

  1. 1” margins
  2. Acceptable fonts and sizes: Size 12-point Times New Roman;11-point Arial, Calibri, and Georgia; or 10-point Lucida.
  3. Body of paper is aligned left
  4. Running head (by instructor preference) in header, left aligned
  5. Page number in header right aligned
  6. Line Spacing – double throughout
  7. Tab in the first line of a paragraph ½” or .5
  8. Title is bolded, centered with proper capitalization
  9. Level 1 heading on 2nd page of paper, centered and bolded and is usually the title of the paper, never the word Introduction.
  10. References is the last page of the paper

Margins

  1. 1” margins – top, bottom, left, right.
  2. Word margins are set in Layout or in File/Page Setup/Margins.

Font

  1. Acceptable fonts and sizes: Size 12-point Times New Roman; 11-point Arial, Calibri, and Georgia;10-point Lucida; or other legible font as approved by instructor.
  2. Font and font size are important for readability.
  3. Do not use bold except for section headings if section headings are used.
  4. Do not use all caps except for the title of the paper in the Header or an acronym (NATO, AIDS).
  5. Do not use italics or underlining unless there is a rule that says to use them.

Alignment

  1. Left align – this is the usual default setting.
  2. Do not block or justify where the right margin is uneven.
  3. Alignment can be set in the Paragraph box if the icon is not visible.

Line Spacing

  1. Double space –throughout the entire document.
  2. Check default settings in the Paragraph box and reset per instructions under Paragraph setting (see below).

Paragraph Settings

Some programs such as Word 2007 and later have defaults in the Paragraph box which interferes with proper double spacing. The settings in the Paragraph dialogue box should be as follows to have proper double spacing.

  1. Indentation (on top) should be set at 0 left and 0 right.
  2. Spacing (on the lower left) should be set to 0 Before and 0 After.
  3. Line Spacing (on the lower right) should be set to double.
  4. Check the box that says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.”
  5. Click Default (at the bottom) and select Yes to change defaults.

In Google docs, you can change Paragraph settings under Spacing to 0 next to Before and 0 next to After by going into the double spacing tool and clicking Custom Settings.  You will have to select (highlight) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making the change once the paper is typed.

In Pages, you can change the Paragraph settings by clicking on Format on the top navigation bar and then Paragraph. Remember that you have to highlight (select) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making change in Paragraph once the paper is typed.

First Line of a Paragraph

  1. Indent the first word of a paragraph 1/2” or .5 from the left margin.
  2. The Tab default is usually at this setting.  If not, reset defaults.

Spacing after a Period or Other End Punctuation

In the 7th edition of APA, only one space is used after the end of a sentence.

Page Number and Running Head

  1. In Word, click on the Insert tab and then click on Page Number in the menu bar. It will give you the option of where to insert the page number.
  2. Choose to insert the page number at the top of the page, right aligned.
  3. The page number appears on every page of the document, including the title page.
  4. Place the cursor left of the number and type in the running head.
  5. Total length of the running head is 50 characters and spaces.
  6. The running head is in all caps.
  7. After you typed click tab until the running head is left aligned in the header.
  8. Use a plain header format.
  9. Do not use bold, underlining, quotation marks, or a different font or color for the title.
  10. Do not use the word page or any abbreviation of the word page such as pg. or p. between the running head and the actual page number.

Heading Levels

There are five possible heading levels in APA style.

  • Level 1 headings are used for top-level or main sections – they are bolded and in the center of the page.
  • Level 2 and Level 3 headings are subsections of Level 1 – they are also bolded, but they are left aligned.
  • Levels 4 and 5 headings are bolded, italicized, indented, and followed by a period.

APA does not use the word Introduction. The Level 1 heading at the beginning of an APA paper is the bolded and centered title of the paper, typed on the first page of the paper after the title page.

See pages 47 - 49 in the APA Publication Manual for more detailed information.

Title Page

The student paper must include a title page. The following items are included on the student title page unless otherwise indicated by the instructor:

  1. The running head is an abbreviation of the title, written in all-caps, left aligned in the header up to 50 character and spaces long (if less than 50 character and spaces long then the entire title can be in the header)
  2. Page number is right aligned in the header
  3. The running head and page numbers appear on every page of the paper.
  4. All the text on the title page is centered and double spaced with proper capitalization (except for the header)
  5. Title is a maximum of three to four spaces below the header
  6. Directly below the title is the student author’s first and last name
  7. On the next line is the college/institution’s name, fully spelled out with proper capitalization
  8. Below the institution name is the course number and course name, ex:  COU 1234: Introduction to APA Usage
  9. On the next line is the instructor name, ex: Prof. I. Knowalot
  10. On the last line is the assignment due date, ex: February 29, 2028

Abstract

If you are asked to prepare an abstract for your research paper, click Insert/Page Break to get to the top of a new page, and center the word Abstract in bold on the first line. Abstracts are typically no more than 250 words. They are usually a single paragraph with no indentation at the start of the paragraph. Otherwise, they follow the same formatting rules including double spacing.

Reference Page

  1. After the last section of your paper insert a page break.
  2. Type the word References, bolded, centered with proper capitalization
  3. The References page is double spaced.
  4. Each reference entry is left-aligned and formatted with a hanging indent.
  5. To create the hanging indent, highlight the reference entries and go into the Paragraph box.
  6. Under Special, select Hanging from the drop down menu. Once selected, the default under By should be .5’.
  7. Remember that your list has to be alphabetized by author. If there is no author or group author, use the title.
  8. There are no extra spaces in between entries.

APA In-Text Citations

APA In-Text Citations

How to cite when a person is named as an author

In APA, the general rule is to use the last name of the author, the year of publication and the page numbers to give credit to the source. APA is called an author-date documentation system because of the use of author and date. Here’s a sample quotation:

“While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (Anderson, 2002, p. 112).

Anderson is the name of the author of the source. The source was published in 2002. The information is on page 112.

Here’s the information from the source paraphrased instead of quoted. Note there is no page number when paraphrasing.

Tattoos are popular today and were common even in old civilizations (Anderson, 2002).

Here’s a combination of a quote and a paraphrase. See how the parentheses goes at the end of the sentence, not the end of the quote. Note that the page number goes only after the quoted information

“While tattoos may be popular today (p. 342),” they were common in some old civilizations (Anderson, 2002).

Note also that it is only the last name of the author, not the first name or any title. The end quotation mark goes after the words quoted, not the parentheses. The documentation is part of the sentence, but it is not part of the quote. There is no punctuation before the parentheses except for the end quotation mark: no comma or period goes before the parentheses.

You can tell the reader the name of the author in the sentence. If you do, you should not put the name in the parentheses.

Signal tags with quotes

According to Anderson (2002), “While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (p. 344). 

Use of the word that before a quote

The addition of the word that changes a signal phrase to just the beginning of a sentence so that what is in the quotation marks is a continuation of the sentence and is not considered a separate sentence.

Anderson’s (2002) research that “[w]hile tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (p.344).

Now the quoted words are part of a sentence which begins outside the quote. I put the letter w in brackets since I changed something in a quote. Changing a quote is allowed as long as you show the reader by putting brackets around the change and the change does not alter the meaning of the quote.

If there is more than one study by the author on that point, list the year of the other studies.

Anderson (2002, 2000) shows that …. (p. 32).

To cite more than one study that shows the point, list the other authors and years of study.

The incidence of spontaneous combustion in the external layers is insignificant (Anderson, 2002, p. 33; Xiu, 1998, p. 56). Note: this list should be alphabetical.

More than one author

If there are two authors, use both last names.  The authors should be listed in the same order as they are listed in the source.

“There is increasing evidence that birds descended from dinosaurs” (Simpson & Bernini, 2002, p. 43).

According to Simpson and Bernini (2002), “There is increasing evidence that birds descended from dinosaurs” (p. 43).

If there are three authors, use all three last names as follows:

According to Simpson, Bernini, and O’Reilly (2002), “There is increasing evidence that birds descended from dinosaurs” (p. 43).

“There is increasing evidence that chickens did not come from chicken eggs (Simpson, Bernini, & O’Reilly, 2002, p. 67).

See how the word and is used when the source is reffered to in a sentence and an & is used when parenthetical documentation is used.

After the first time mentioned for references with three or four authors, use the first name with et al.

Simpson et al (2002) also found that some chickens did not have feathers (p. 43).

If there are more than four authors named, use the first name with et al consistently except for the Referencess page which should list all authors.

How to cite sources in the paper when there is no person named as an author

Sometimes, a source has no named author. This is common when a document or study is produced by a governmental agency or corporation.

“The most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris to be hurled in to the air blocking the sunlight” (US Department of Dinosaur Studies, 2004, p. 15).

The reference to the source could be in the sentence.

“Dinosaur Extinction” explains that “[t]he most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris into the air blocking the sunlight” (p. 587).

How to List a Title

When referred to in the paper, titles of short published works such as articles should be in quotation marks and titles of long, published works should be in italics or underlined. All words of more than four letters and all proper nouns should have the first letter capitalized.

(Note: In the References page, quotation marks should not be used for short published works, and only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns should be capitalized.)

Quoting a Quote from a source – indirect quotes

Sometimes, an author quotes another author in his or her paper. Just the standard way to refer to those sources.

Here’s a couple of ways to cite that information:

According to Smith (2005) the results of the Maloney (2004) study showed a “significant difference in traveling time for the Norwegian geese” (p. 23).

Length of Quotations

Quotes longer than 40 words should be indented 1/2″ from the left and should not have quotation marks.

The theory that dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate changes from a huge meteor impact has far reaching implications. There is always the possibility such an impact will happen again. There are many meteors that come close to earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists closely watch to identify potential problems. There is some discussion about an organized effort to launch a missile to either explode such meteors or defect them away from our orbit. (Jones, 1997, p. 277)

Paraphrasing and Summarizing also Requires Citation

Quoting is only one way of bringing information into a paper from a source. You can also paraphrase or summarize which is to put the source’s ideas into your own words. Quotation marks are not used, but you still have to give credit to the source the same way as with quotes. It is still plagiarism if you don’t use APA or other documentation for paraphrased information.

Use of Ellipsis to Show Omitted Words or Sentences from a Quote

You may remember seeing a series of three periods … in a quote. This is called an ellipsis and is used to represent an omission. Even though you may omit something from the beginning of a sentence you quote from, the general rule is not to use an ellipsis at the beginning of a quote. They are generally used in the middle of a quote to take out unnecessary words in a sentence or between sentences which are being quoted. You may use an ellipsis at the end of a quote if you don’t complete the sentence.

You may also use an ellipsis between quoted sentences to indicate that a sentence or sentences were omitted.

Identifying Internet Sources

Increasingly, the Internet is being used for research. Because everything looks the same on the screen, it is important to figure out what exactly you are looking at. Sometimes, a website is limited to a group of pages that are written for the site. There is no named author, and you are using the whole site even though there may be separately named pages. In that case, you are using the entire site, and if there is no person named as author of the site, then we refer to the source by the name of the website.

Sometimes, websites have many pages and you are using just one page or article, also called a document in a website. In that case, the source is the page (article) in the website, just like an article in a newspaper.  If there is a separate author, refer to the source by the author’s last name and year or publication. If there is no person named as an author, refer to the source by the title of the page in quotation marks.

There are situations where articles from various authors are posted in a specific website. If you are using one of those articles, the source is that article.

When you don’t know the actual page number

The last important point about APA citations in the paper is that sometimes we don’t know the page number the information was originally printed on. This commonly happens when we access a source through the Internet which was originally published in hard copy. There are also no page numbers for sources published only on the Internet. If you do not know a page number, APA says not to use one.

If an Internet source has paragraph numbers, you can use the paragraph number: (Jones, 2002, par. 35). However, you should not start counting paragraphs to use a paragraph number. The custom is that if you know a page number, you should not repeat the author’s name if you are using information from the same source in the same paragraph unless you use information from another source in between. However, if you don’t have a page number to use, you’ll have to repeat the author’s last name or title for all references to that particular source. Since sometimes there is no page number or paragraph number to reference, you might not have a parenthesis at all if the source is referred to as part of the sentence. The Internet has created situations where we don’t use parenthesis for citing sources.

Writing a Research Paper

Writing a Research Paper

Overview

These are guidelines for writing the general type of research paper assigned at Pasco-Hernando State College which involves looking at various sources for information and then including that information in an organized essay using MLA, APA, or whatever other style system your instructor requires. This type of research paper is called a survey of literature or literature review. It is also called a research essay. It is different from the type of paper where you are presenting the results of your research.  Always follow the instructions for a specific assignment in your course.

1. Identify the research question

2. Find sources to answer the question

3. Create a List of sources

4. Create a source note each source

5. Create the thesis statement

6. Create an outline

7. Write the paper

8. General tips for writing a research paper

Identify the research question

To properly complete a research paper, you have to start with a research question. Your instructor will either assign a specific research question or a research topic.

If you are assigned a question or can select from a list of questions, it is easy to identify your question. You can start with focused research looking for sources that would help to answer the question.

If you are assigned a topic, you will start with exploratory research. Exploratory research is where you explore various aspects of the topic and after learning something about it, you focus on a particular question of your choice. This is called narrowing the topic.  Then, your research becomes focused research on that particular question.

Either way, a research paper must identify a research question. The research question is critical since all of the content of the research essay follows from the question.

  1. Your thesis will be a one-sentence answer to the question. The thesis should be placed at the end of the introductory paragraph following the background information.
  2. Your body will be a series of paragraphs proving your thesis is right while discussing the approaches of others (sources). There should be nothing in the body paragraphs that isn’t related to discussing your thesis.
  3. Your conclusion will sum up the proof and restate the thesis. There should be nothing in the conclusion which does anything else except sum up the proof and restate the thesis.

Find sources

Be sure you understand how many sources you can use.

Be sure you understand any limitations on where the sources may come from.

Screen and select sources carefully so that they are credible and provide help with answering your question.

  1. read carefully to detect bias, tone, and slanted language
  2. read carefully to detect language designed to have you thinking emotionally instead of logically
  3. read carefully to detect any logical fallacies

Do not just look for sources that prove what you already think. Research is supposed to be an investigation into the possible answers and/or positions on the question.

Look for sources that give a variety of perspectives. Your job in researching is to find out what possible answers there are to your question, evaluate them, and come up with the best answer. Remember, for many questions, there is no one right answer.

Do not just select any source on the topic. Read through to be sure the source will help answer your research question. This is critical. If you don’t, you won’t have related information from your sources to write your paper.

Create a list of sources

  1. Open a file and format the page in MLA page format. It’s the same for an APA paper. Center a title: if MLA, Works Cited is the title; if APA, the title is List of References.
  2. Find the sample for your type of source. Note that samples for sources from LINCC are listed in a separate section toward the end.
  3. List sources alphabetically following the format for your source in MLA style or APA style or whatever style the assignment requires.

Do not use the MLA tool in Word or any other tool. They do not provide options for all sources and do not correct errors when information is inserted.
Do not copy and paste what a source may list as a citation. These may not be accurate.

Create a source note for each source

  1. Create a source note paragraph or page for each source to help organize the information from the sources.
  2. Source notes are just a summary of what is in the source and includes paraphrases (information from the source you put into your own words) and quotes.
  3. Source notes can be created in one file or in a file for each.
  4. Be sure to list the author, if any, the title, and the rest of the information needed for a Works Cited entry at the top.
  5. It is important to cite paraphrased or quoted information so that you can properly document them (give credit to the author) in your paper.
  6. You can and should include your own thoughts on the source in the source note to help with your analysis in the paper.
  7. Be sure to cite your paraphrases and quotes to distinguish them from your own thoughts in order to properly cite the paraphrases and quotes in the paper to avoid plagiarism.

Thesis Statement

After you evaluate what your sources have to say about the question, you have to decide upon the best answer to the question.

• A thesis is a one-sentence answer to the research question.
• A thesis must a clear, direct, focused answer to the question.
• A thesis must take a stand on the question.
• A thesis cannot be a statement of fact.

Each month, the moon goes through phrases. Statement of fact. Not a thesis.
A full moon causes lunacy in some people. Position statement. Thesis.

There are many accidents on US 19. Statement of fact. Not a thesis.
There would be less accidents on US 19 if cell phone use while driving were prohibited. Position statement. Thesis.

• A thesis statement is a statement, not a question.
• A thesis statement is a statement – a sentence, not more than one sentence.
• A thesis statement may or may not give details.

Despite the Internet, printed books are still important.
Despite the Internet, printed books are still important because unlike the Internet they can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

Both are a proper thesis statement.

Create an outline

  1. An outline is the thesis statement and the main ideas of the proof (body) paragraphs.
  2. An outline begins with the thesis statement. What you intend to use as background information before the thesis is not part of the outline.
  3. After the standard header, heading, and title, the thesis should be stated after the word Thesis:
  4. The body paragraphs are listed using Roman numerals (I, II, III, and so on).
  5. There should be subsections (A., B., C) to describe examples or descriptions for each proof.
  6. Some instructors may ask for a formal outline with full sentences (sentence outline) instead of just a few words showing the main ideas (topic outline).
  7. Some instructors will ask for a Concluding statement: a sentence which repeats or restates the thesis. This will remind people that their paper has to end up in the same place as the beginning.

Write the paper

Research papers which survey and evaluate sources – the type of research papers you are generally assigned at Pasco-Hernando State College – are written in the same way as an essay. In fact, these types of research papers are also called research essays. There is a standard organization.

Organization

Introduction

background information with thesis statement at end. Background information explains the situation and leads into the thesis. It does not include the proof.

Note: While there are some variations on where the thesis should be placed, you can’t go wrong putting it at the end of the introductory paragraph.  Always follow your instructor’s directions if inconsistent with the information here.

Body

paragraphs that prove why your thesis is right. Each paragraph must contain a separate reason with examples and/or elaboration on how it proves the thesis.

Conclusion

sums up proof and restates thesis. The conclusion should not introduce any new ideas and must be limited to what has already been presented.

See Related Pages on the right sidebar for Essay Organization

Incorporating Information from Sources

  1. Research papers must include information from the sources by quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing in addition to your own analysis and evaluation of that information.
  2. For further information on how to incorporate information from sources in MLA style, see Synthesizing Information from Sources in Related Pages on the right sidebar. Aside from the differences in the citation itself, this method applies to how to incorporate information into APA style papers as well.
  3. Every sentence with information from a source must give credit to the source. Otherwise, it is plagiarism. It is not all right to give a few sentences or a paragraph with information from a source and then cite the source. The reader would have no way of knowing how many, if any at all, of the previous sentences were from the source.
  4. Once mentioning the author (when a person is named as an author) or title (when no person is named as an author), you can use just the page number in subsequent cites to that same source as long as no other source is cited in between.
  5. When you don’t know the exact page number the cited information was printed on in the original printed publication, don’t use a page number.
  6. When a source in mentioned in the sentence and you don’t know the page number, there will not be any documentation at the end.
  7. Paragraph numbers for online sources should be used only if the paragraphs are actually numbered in the source.
  8. Citations do not always have to be at the end of a sentence. When you have a series of sentences with information from a source, you can vary how you give credit to the sources. Here are some examples in MLA style for a source from the Internet which does not have page numbers on each page, so page numbers are not used in the cite.
  9. According to Jones, “Blah blah blah.” She goes on to say that blah blah blah. “Whenever it is appropriate, blah blah blah” (Jones). Blah blah blah, Jones continues, is never considered blah blah blah.
  10. The situation where you have one sentence after the other with information from one source should be limited since you are supposed to have your own ideas and analysis in the paper.

General Tips

  1. Don’t use questions to make a point. Just state the point.
  2. Don’t use first, second, third to enumerate the proof paragraphs.
  3. Don’t use In conclusion to begin the conclusion. The reader knows it the conclusion. It’s the last paragraph.
  4. Be sure the period goes only after any parentheses with documentation at the end, not before such parentheses: “Blah blah” (Jones). Not “Blah blah.” (Jones)
  5. Be sure any periods or commas that are supposed to be next to an end quotation mark are before the end quotation mark and not after it: “The Cat in the Hat.” Not “The Cat in the Hat”.
  6. While some instructors allow first person (I, me, my, we, us, our, ours) or second person (you, yours, omitted [understood] you), typically research papers are written in third person (language not using first or second person). 
  7. Proofread carefully. If you have a question about punctuation, grammar, or spelling, look it up in Grammar (Related Pages) or a dictionary.