Students learn how to integrate citation information into their research-based argument paper effectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoid plagiarism, and follow a standard format for citation. Students learn Modern Language Association (MLA) conventions for in-text citation as well as for a works cited page. Drafting the works cited page, which is integral to the creation of any research paper, helps students to avoid plagiarism.
Although you are the author of your own paper, you draw on several other authors’ ideas in order to make your arguments. Failing to give other authors credit when referencing their work is called plagiarism.
Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing it off as one’s own. Plagiarism is an ethical offense, and can often result in serious consequences. In addition to resulting in academic or legal consequences, plagiarism is counterproductive to the learning process, as stealing someone else’s ideas will not build the deep understanding that results from learning on one’s own.
Someone can plagiarize by copying and pasting the exact words from a source without citing the source. Plagiarism also occurs when a writer uses different words to express the same idea as another author (e.g., if someone takes the central claim and evidence from another paper and writes it with different words, it is still plagiarism if the original source is not cited).
You can avoid plagiarism by always citing works properly. Proper citation gives credit to the author one is quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing.
MLA is a specific format for providing citations and references. (See the MLA Citation Handout). Look at the in-text citation portion of the handout first.
There are different kinds of citation styles, but for the purposes of the research-based argument paper in an ELA or humanities class, MLA is the preferred style. Different disciplines have different preferred citation styles. For a more detailed discussion of various citation styles: http://www.ucla.edu/ (search terms: Getting Help with Citation Style).
You located sources throughout the previous unit, compiling the information necessary for proper citation. According to the MLA format, following the use of a quote, paraphrase, or idea in their research-based argument papers, students should cite authors by providing the author’s last name and a page number (if any) in parentheses. If there are three or fewer authors of one source, they should list all the authors in their parenthetical citations. However, if there are more than three authors, students should include the first author, followed by “et al.” This abbreviation is Latin for “and others.”
More than three authors: “[D]eploying broadband networks at the community and municipal levels has become an important factor in allowing local businesses to grow and remain competitive.” (Qiang et al. 38)
A reference to a source within a document is called an in-text citation. In-text citations provide readers with details about where information originated.
If the quote comes from page ix of the article: “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents.” (Ward et al. ix)
If no page number is given, the author’s name should suffice.
If there is no page number: “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents.” (Ward et al.)
If the author’s name already appears in the sentence, the parentheses can simply include a page number.
If the quote comes from page ix of the article: According to Ward et al., “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents” (ix).
If there is no page number: According to Ward et al., “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents.”
If there is no page number, but there is more than one article by the same author: According to Ward et al., “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents” (“Evidence for Action”).
The exact syntax of citation will vary, as above. For example, in the three examples above, the quote could also be cited as follows: “Product markets are more competitive if all would-be entrepreneurs can use their talents” (Ward et al. ix).
The citation method outlined in the third bullet is also useful for Internet articles and other sources in which the author may not be named explicitly.
In some cases, the whole quote is too long for the section, or only a part is relevant to the argument. In this case, you should use the following marks to edit the quote, preserving the original context and meaning: Brackets “[ ]” replace or clarify pronouns, or to replace indirect references with specific references. Ellipses “…” replace unnecessary text, such as extraneous phrases and clauses that do not impact the meaning of the quotation.
Original: “A more productive workforce, through greater equality in employment and education, increases expected rates of return, which in turn generates a modest increase investment and promotes growth.” (Ward et al. ix)
Revised: “A more productive workforce … generates a modest increase investment and promotes growth.” (Ward et al. ix)
Original: “Sometimes these factors occur together, making individual problems all the more challenging to resolve.” (Sachs et al. 29)
Revised: “Sometimes [a poverty trap, uneven progress, and policy neglect] occur together, making individual problems all the more challenging to resolve.” (Sachs et al. 29)
Although it happens rarely, sometimes even authoritative sources have typographical and spelling errors. Inform students that it is best practice not to alter a quote for grammar, spelling, or typographical errors. Instead, if it is necessary to quote a sentence with a spelling error, transcribe the error exactly as it appears in the text, and immediately follow it with the term sic, italicized and in brackets. Sic is Latin for “thus,” “so,” or “just as that,” and it informs the reader that the quote is an exact reproduction of what appeared in the quoted source.
“Across both Africa and Southeast Asia, mothers who have a basic education ate [sic] 50% more likely than uneducated mothers to immunize their children.” (Sperling)
MLA Citation Handout
Take a look at the second portion of the MLA Citation Handout under the heading “Works cited page.” A works cited page is the final page of a research paper and is a list of all the sources used to write the paper. The in-text citations direct the reader to the works cited page where the source’s full bibliographic information is listed. Look at the example on your handout and notice the formatting differences between different types of sources.
- What is the purpose of in-text citations?
In-text citations provide readers with the exact location of information from a given source when it is referenced in a paper.
- What is the purpose of a works cited page?
Works cited pages provide extensive details about all cited sources used in the paper.
- How are in-text citations related to the works cited page?
The in-text citations provide an abbreviated version of the source’s information that can be found in the works cited page; the in-text citations lead readers to the source’s full information on the works cited page.
- How are a works cited page the same as a bibliography?
A works cited page lists only sources actually cited in a paper, whereas a bibliography lists every source used in the preparation of a paper, whether they are cited or not.
Different source types necessitate different citation formatting. Note the format used for citing a book:
Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium.
Note the difference between this format and that of a website:
Editor, Author, or Compiler Name (if available). Name of Site. Version Number. Name of Institution/Organization Affiliated with Site (Sponsor or Publisher), Date of Resource Creation (if available). Medium. Date of Access.
Again, look at the MLA Citation Handout. Note the similarities and differences in the various source-dependent citation formats.
- Book citations include author and book name, but periodical articles have to include author, article title, and the name of the periodical.
- Website citations need to include the entire Web address, the date of creation, and the date the information was accessed.
- Motion-picture citations list director information instead of author information.