This presentation excerpt is for teachers, but it shows the first part of the PowerPoint I use on the day I introduce citation principles to my writing students. Generally, these students know what citation is and probably used it some in high school, but they still have a lot of confusion around it and don’t know how to use it correctly. I start by giving them some strong basic principles that will guide them when they start to do real research, because we all know that citation is not a science. No matter how many rules we learn, as soon as we start working with real sources, we have to make decisions about how to handle them.
My goal for my students is that they understand the basic principles behind citation, the real purposes for citation, so that they can ask the right questions and make good choices about how to cite when they don’t have, or don’t know, a clear rule. I’ve used these principles in many classes and my students seem to do quite well with them.
I’m sharing here a piece of the actual PowerPoint that I share with teachers who attend my presentation on this topic. The graphics are all Creative Commons photos from Flickr. They are all credited in the PowerPoint.
You can hover over the graphic to pause it.
After the introduction here, I usually show the three main areas that citation styles address: manuscript style, full citation, and in-text citation, because students are not aware that things like heading styles or the tense of reporting verbs may be dictated by the citation style. Then, I show slides that compare the basic differences between the three most common styles that my students use, because, even though students use just one style, they need to recognize when a source is using a different one.
For more information, either take a look at an audio excerpt with a more in-depth discussion of the distinction between theirs and mine or known and new, or move to the next section of the PowerPoint about manuscript style. The entire series and related information are found in the category posts about category posts about citation and academic integrity.
If they don’t realize, for instance, that APA uses commas for parentheticals, but MLA doesn’t, they’ll tend to make up their own rules, guessing, perhaps, that commas are used with dates, but not with page numbers.
Knowing the differences between the styles clears up a lot of confusion.