Documenting Sources: How to Avoid Plagiarism in MLA and APA Papers
A little story about documentation . . . “My friend told me about this guy who can get us World Series tickets.” “Shut up! Who? For how much?” “You don’t know him. He’s Derek Jeter’s personal trainer on the road. The tickets are free—we just have to fly there.” “Which game are the tickets for?” “Game three! Isn’t that great?” “No, you idiot! That’s already passed!”
You already know about documenting sources! How do you know? Who told you?Why should we believe them? And how old is this information?These are the sorts of questions readers should have answered by your documentation.
Goals for This Workshop: • To learn why to attribute information to its sources • To learn how to effectively integrate source material • To view the latest MLA & APA styles • To practice citing a source
Why Document Sources? There are two reasons to document your sources in your papers: academic honesty and to avoid plagiarism. Academic honesty is just playing by the rules of academia—the world of scholarship—and showing respect for the work of others when you borrow their ideas or words as you put forward your own.
Your (and Your Sources’) Time to Shine • Showing information on your sources demonstrates your own research accomplishments (Spatt 438). • Documentation also allows readers to look up items and learn more on your topic.
Avoid Plagiarism It’s stealing! It’s lying! It’s plain wrong!More specifically, according to Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers in the 7th edition of A Writer’s Reference, “Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words” (376).
To Cite (verb) To identify the source of statements that come from another work (a.k.a. to document). Such identification is done through signal phrases and, in MLA and APA, parenthetical citations.
What to Cite Direct quotes—Theymust be exactly word-for-word reproductions, or else show where elements were left out with an ellipsis . . . Borrowed ideas—Those are “direct quotations; statistics and other specific facts; and visuals such as cartoons, graphs, and diagrams; and any ideas you present in a summary or paraphrase” (Hacker 377). If it is rare information or contentious—people argue about it—cite the source. And, of course, “when in doubt, cite the source” (377).
Summary vs. Paraphrase Summary—short version of a text in all new words Paraphrase—also completely rewords and restructures a text, but is about the same length
What Not to Cite? common knowledge that could be found in almost any reference source
Cite as You Note and Draft With full documentation, take notes in either word-for-word quotes or totally reworked into your own idiom. This way, you’ll always know where a quote or idea came from! And you’ll be practicing documentation as you draft your papers.
Example Notes Solberg, Judy. “Becoming Learning Commons Partners: Working Toward a Shared Vision and Practice.” Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change. Spring 2011. 20-35. p. 22: “As new technologies have emerged, librarians have been challenged with how to integrate these technologies into existing buildings and services.” What tech? Why? p. 29: “Ideally, as described in the learning commons planning literature, learning commons participants would have been identified before the beginning of the planning process and members would have been chosen based on the best combination of services for producing the desired outcomes.” What happened when reality met idealism?
MLA Style MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used most often for • literary analyses, so quotations • summarizing and paraphrasing
How to cite in MLA style, as outlined by Hacker: A signal phrase leads into sourced material followed by a parenthetical citation. The end of the paper is a list ofworks cited providing full publication data for each source item (359).
Signal Phrases • Name the author(s)and mark where your words end and the ideas of another writer begin, whether in quotation, summary, or paraphrase form. • Give the author’s credentials the first time they are mentioned. • Use present tense verbsunless a date is given in the text. • Show how you are using the sourcematerial, i.e., as background, support, refutation, etc. • Provide transitions between your sentences and the words or ideas of others.
Example Signal Phrases In her essay, “Beans on Toast,” Sylvia Tate argues that . . . Morgan, in the Jan. 28, 2011 episode of Piers Morgan Tonight, suggested that . . . This can be effective when, as Smith and Barnabas find, the two protagonists . . .
Signal Phrases Are for Summaries, Too! The signal phrase is the first bookend to sourced material and the parenthetical citation is the end. Even without a typical “So-and-so says” phrase, A Writer’s Reference notes that there should be a signal phrase that identifies the originator of an idea being summarized (Hacker 382). The signal phrase also gives you credibility as a researcher. If you can’t tell me why I should trust your source, then I’m not going to trust that you have read and understood your sources or that you know why you’re using the source!
Example Author Credentials Legal scholar Max Moynihan contends . . . Ben Yagoda, professor of English at the University of Delaware, delights in . . . My friend Lisa, a twenty-year veteran of the culture wars in public schools, bemoans . . .
Signal Phrases Besides people, corporate entities (organizations or governments) can count as the author: If there is no author name, not even a corporate entity, use the full title of your source in the signal phrase or the short form of the title in the parenthetical citation. In a 2009 online survey of members of The Froot Loops Adoration Society, more than 75% of the lovers of the sugary cereal reported they also consumed “contraband vegetal substances.”
Examples of No-Author-Name Documentation In the entry entitled “I Was Married to Sasquatch,”an anonymous blogger details her 30-year marriage to the mythical beast. Several bloggers have large online audiences that often exceed those of traditional media (“Today’s Media Landscape”).
MLA Practice 1 Exercise MLA 2-1 Avoiding Plagiarism http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/Player/Pages/Main.aspx Select “Research exercises,” click “cancel,” then select “MLA.”
Quotation Punctuation The ellipsis and square brackets are friends of quotation marks. The ellipsis is three spaced periods: . . . It shows where words have been left out to shorten or simplify a quote. There is no need for it at the beginning of a quote, and you should use it at the end only if it is not the end of the quoted sentence (Hacker 363).
Example of Ellipsis Use Professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware, author Ben Yagoda argues convincingly that, despite what recent language authorities say is traditional English grammar, “before the eighteenth century, writers and speakers typically referred to an indefinite subject . . . with a they, their, or them,” and he demonstrates this with examples from Shakespeare, the King James version of the Bible, and the 1749 novel Tom Jones (184). . . . = —everyone, anyone, a person, or the typical student—
Ellipses There may be a period and ellipsis combined if 1 or more sentences is left out. When using ellipses to shorten a quote, the original meaning must still come across and the sentence must be grammatical! (BTW, it’s okay to change a capital in the original to a lowercase to blend into your sentences without any extra punctuation.)
Square Brackets Square brackets are for putting in your own words to clarify a quote or to make a quote grammatical in your sentence. If a word form has to change to become grammatical, then the word is considered a substitution and requires brackets. e.g., original blamed becomes quoted [blaming] In The Big Lebowski, The Dude often says, “It [the rug] tied the room together.”
MLA Practice 2 The signal phrase and punctuation techniques and in-text citations are all to be used to seamlessly integrate and identify source material. Exercise MLA 3-1 Integrating Sources http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/Player/Pages/Main.aspx (Select “Research exercises,” click “cancel,” then select “MLA.”)
Follow a Quote with its Point argument Yagoda takes the middle ground in the debate on the English language. With the curious eye of a linguist, he gathers examples of usage from respected academic journals (Chronicle of Higher Education, American Speech) (185), literary canon (KJV Bible, Shakespeare, Twain, Wilde) (187), as well as popular culture (Springsteen and Seinfeld) to identify what is acceptable by users of the language (90). However, like a traditional grammarian, he applies his own rigid notions about pronouns when answering the phone: “I think ‘This is he’ sounds pompous but ‘This is him’ sounds louche [disreputable]” (191). His personal views underscore how emotional people can be about supposedly rule-based grammar. In addition to the signal phrase and verb choice, give further explanation to connect the quote to your own thesis argument: the point
Parenthetical Citations Any information you put in parentheses ( ) is described as “parenthetical.” A parenthetical citation is the documentation given in parentheses at the end of a sentence or a natural clause break.
Parenthetical Citations Give page numbers when pagination is stable, i.e., stays the same: print and PDF files. If no page or paragraph numbers, use well-developed signal phrases and no parenthetical citation. Even if a source is only one page, it helps to put the page number in to show where your citation ends (Hacker 391).
Parenthetical Citations in MLA Depending on the amount of documentation in the sentence and the type of source, there will be more or less in the parentheses: In If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It, the parts of speech are analyzed (Yagoda 15-35). The Wikipedia article “Solar Flares” describes coronal mass ejections and their effects on our electronics. That’s right! No parenthetical citation at all—the documentation was done in the sentence.
MLA Practice 3 Exercise MLA 4-1 In-text citations Exercise MLA 4-4 Works Cited http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/Player/Pages/Main.aspx (Select “Research exercises,” click “cancel,” then select “MLA.”)
APA Style APA (American Psychological Association) format • Most used for psychology and other social science classes. • Emphasizes authors and credibility, just as MLA, but dates must be given in the body of your text.
APA An APA paper is usually more formal: • a title page • an abstract • and optional major section headingsin boldface and centered (Hacker, 2011, pp. 484-485).
APA cont’d APA is for science writing, so more specialized information is usually being discussed and needs to be cited more often. Common knowledge can still be used, but in a literature review, almost all the support of your argument will come from others’ work and must have signal phrases and/or in-text citations, even for brief analyses of many sides of a debate:
Example of Summary Analysis Documentation: While some linguists reduce language to an unrecognizable mathematical abstraction (Chomsky, 1957), others who write on language are not really researchers but pedants determined to fix an evolving organism into one perpetual form (Truss, 2004).
Common Knowledge It also depends on your audience what will be considered common knowledge. Writing a paper on a theory of subcultures may involve vocabulary and facts familiar to sociologists but not to 10th graders. For the former, you would cite your sources mostly parenthetically, but for the teens there would be more explanatory author credentials in the sentences.
APA Practice 1 Exercise APA 2-5 Recognizing Common Knowledge Exercise APA 2-1 Avoiding Plagiarism http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/Player/Pages/Main.aspx (Select “Research exercises,” click “cancel,” then select “APA.”)
APA Signal Phrases APA signal phrase verbs are supposed to be in past tense or present perfect tense: Pinker (2001) arguedthat . . . or Pinker (2001) has argued that . . . Present tense is to be used only when “discussing the results of an experiment (the results show) or knowledge that has clearly been established (researchers agree)” (Hacker, 2011, p. 454).
Either in the style of Author (YEAR) verbed/has verbed . . . or “ . . .” verbed Author (YEAR) or According to Author (YEAR), “ . . .” (p. #). It is essential to APA style to have a signal phrase
Example APA signals Yamizaki, Okuda, and Jones (2008) have found that if you say their names together, they sound like a law firm. “Take any three last names and say them in sequence, and it’ll sound like the name of a law firm,” joked Miyuki Yamazaki (Yamazaki et al., 2008, p. 8).
APA Practice 2 Exercise APA 3-1 Integrating Sources http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/writersref6e/Player/Pages/Main.aspx Select “Research exercises,” click “cancel,” then select “APA.”
APA Quotations Quoting should be minimal • Use mostly phrases, not complete sentences • Quote the most distinctive words • Blend them into your own sentences
Example APA Quotations Neelix et al. (2001) found that spending too much money “left a profound deficit” (p. 318). Although they were still able to get a grant, their initial spending “left a profound deficit” (Neelix et al., 2001, p. 318).
Parenthetical Citations If a source has no page or paragraph numbers, use well-developed signal phrases and no parenthetical citation.
Online magazine, no page #s Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Joseph Murray has found a significant increase in the rates of celiac disease over that of five decades ago (Toman, 2010). Toman, B. (2010, July). Celiac disease: On the rise. Discovery’s Edge. Retrieved from http://discoverysedge.mayo.edu/celiac-disease/
Parenthetical Citations If a source has no page numbers but has numbered paragraphs, write (para. #), (paras. #, #), or (Author, YEAR, para. #).
Five General Types of Sources: 1. Book: Author, Initial. (YEAR). Title in italics: With only the first word of title and subtitle capitalized. City: Publisher. 2. Chapter in an edited book: Author, I. (YEAR). Title of chapter. In Q. R. Lastname (Ed.), Title of the book (pp. X-XX). City: Publisher.
3. An article from a database: Author, I. (YEAR, Month ##). Article title: And subtitle if any. Periodical Title, Volume number(issue #), page range. DOI or Retrieved from and the name of the database • An online article: Author, I. & Author, I. M. (YEAR, Month). Title of the work: And subtitle if one. Retrieved from URL
5. Article in a print periodical: Author, I. (YEAR, Month). Article title: Subtitle if any. Periodical Title, Volume #(Issue#), #-##. [page range] Article in a database: Same as above, but after page range,add Retrieved from [Name] database.