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Evaluating and Citing Your Sources

Library


Your professors will generally ask that you use scholarly sources in your research assignments. Sometimes this means using articles from peer-reviewed journals, other times it will be be your responsibility to decide if the information is coming from reputable academic sources. We’ll cover both scenarios here.

1) Scholarly Journals

2) Citation Styles

3) Citing With Refworks


Scholarly Journals

Your professors will generally ask that you use scholarly sources in your research assignments. Sometimes this means using articles from peer-reviewed journals, other times it will be be your responsibility to decide if the information is coming from reputable academic sources. We’ll cover both scenarios here.

Peer-reviewed Journals

Some journals require that the articles they publish be peer-reviewed. This means that before the articles appear in the journal, they are reviewed by a panel of experts in the field of study. This panel is tasked with ensuring the article is of good academic quality.

You can limit your search to peer-reviewed articles in most library databases.

Limit to Peer-reviewed Articles

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

The majority of the world’s information is written for the general public to enjoy. In fact, most websites, blogs, or Twitter accounts (and even magazine articles and books) are written by fairly ordinary people to be read by other ordinary people. It’s easy to publish your writing through these avenues and there are very few built-in processes to ensure that the information is correct.

This doesn’t mean that only peer-reviewed articles contain good, factual information. It just means that there is potentially greater room for misinformation from popular sources. If you find a source that is not peer-reviewed (or even if it is), you should evaluate it on a basic criteria of scholarly value.

  • Author: Who wrote it? What are their credentials or background? Why is their view important? Do they have any biases that might skew their viewpoint?
  • Audience: Who is it written for? Does the source use specialized vocabulary?
  • Documentation: Does the author use other sources? If so, are they listed in a Reference List or Works Cited? Are these sources scholarly?
  • Publisher: Who published this information? Are they a College/University or scholarly association? Do they have any biases that might skew what they decide to publish?

If you’re not sure about one of your sources, ask your professor. They will be able to provide advice about what level of scholarliness you should look for.

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Citation Styles

The purpose of any citation style is to link the cited parts of your text to their sources. If something is an original idea, there is no need to cite it as it is already attributed to you the author. However, if you got the idea from one of your sources, you will need to cite it so the reader knows where it came from. You will do this by identifying it with a brief in-text citation, followed by a more complete reference in the bibliography at the end.

In-text Citations

Most styles place in-text citations between parentheses (APA, MLA) but some may use superscript numbers with a footnote (Chicago). They will normally consist of the author’s last name and the year of publication. The purpose is to point the reader to a more complete reference in the bibliography.

Early onset results in a more persistent and severe course (Kessler, 2003).

If the author’s name already appears as part of the text, only include the year.

Kessler (2003) found that among epidemiological samples…

Bibliographies

At the end of your paper, you will include full bibliographic references for the sources you cited in the text. This will include the author’s name, year of publication, title, source (i.e. journal title or website, etc., if applicable), volume, issue, page numbers, publisher, and location of publication. Different styles will have you format the information differently, but the purpose is always to allow your reader to locate the source you used.

Kessler, R. C. (2003). Epidemiology of women and depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 74(1), 5–13.

Which Style?

There are hundreds of different styles, but most undergraduates will only ever use a maximum of three or four of them.

The style you’re expected to use will often be listed in the assignment, but you can always check with your professor to make sure. Each of these guides are held in the library, at the reference desk.

You can look at the library’s research guides for MLA and APA style, or visit Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) to see their summaries of the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

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Citing With Refworks

You can use your Refworks account to create citations and bibliographies. Although these are computer generated and will require you to proof-read and edit, this is an easy method for quickly creating your references.

Create Bibliography

You can create a bibliography within Refworks by selecting the desired sources and clicking the quotation mark icon. The system will default to the last style, but this can be changed using the drop down menu.

Refworks Bibliography

Quick Cite

The Quick Cite option under the quotation mark icon allows you to create in-text citations on the fly. Simply copy the citation for the desired source and paste it into your document in the appropriate place.

Refworks Quick Cite

Integrating with MS Word

You can download the Refworks Citation Manager for Word inside your Word document. Click the Insert tab and select the Add-ins drop-down. Open the Store, search for Refworks Citation Manager, and Add.

The citation manager will now be available under My Add-ins in the Add-ins drop-down. You’ll need to sign-in with your account. Once signed in, you can easily add in-text citations and bibliographies to your Word document.

Note: these instructions are for Word 2016. If you’re using another version, you can find relevant instructions in your Refworks account, under the elipsis menu (…) by selecting Tools.

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