Tag Archives: citations

Out of Cite, Out of Mind: Tips for Nailing Your Next Bibliography

At the Writing Center, we’re happy to help you through every stage of the writing process, but unfortunately, we’re not experts on every single citation style—nobody really is! The important thing is knowing how to find information on citations. Citing your work can be tricky, so to help you out, here are a few resources you can use while writing your next paper.

The Library

Did you know that you can find all the style guides at the library? All you have to do is ask at the circulation desk, and the receptionist can provide you with the AP Stylebook, MLA Handbook, Chicago Manual of Style, and APA Publication Manual, among others. Though you can’t take these books home, you can check out a book for two hours with your MSU ID. The Chicago Manual of Style is also available free online with your MSU library account, so you don’t even have to leave home to complete your bibliography.

Citation Machine (www.citationmachine.net) and Bibme (www.bibme.org)

Citation Machine is a website that allows you to pick your citation style and either search the name of your source or plug in the key details about your source. Click the “create citation” button, and you have your completed citation ready to go! Bibme is very similar to Citation Machine and offers the same services. Try both and figure out what works best for you. When working with sites like these, it’s usually a good idea to consult your style guide just to make sure the citation you received is correct.

Purdue OWL (www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl)

Purdue OWL offers a wide variety of information, including citation examples for every style guide. Use the “Research and Citation” section of the site to view comprehensive information about bibliographies and citations for each style. Besides offering citation tips, Purdue OWL also offers plenty of other helpful tips about writing, so be sure to check those out when you’re in a writing rut.

Zotero (www.zotero.org) and RefWorks (www.refworks.com)

With Zotero, you can collect all your research and store it in your own personal database. The program organizes your sources into collections and then allows you to cite your sources in any style—Zotero offers thousands of publication formats. RefWorks is a similar site that also allows you to create bibliographies from your personal database. Both have slightly different features, so play around to find the website that best fits your needs.

Still stumped? Google is your best friend. Just make sure your sources are reliable. You can usually trust university websites, and if you’re still struggling, ask your professor for help.

Writing Resources: Son of Citation Machine

Son of Citation Machine is a great resource for making citations in MLA, APA, Turabian, and Chicago citation styles. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough to quick and easy citations.

Notice the bar on the left side where the different citation styles listed. Select whichever citation style you are using. You’ll get a screen that looks like this (I chose MLA) :

                            CM front copy

Next, notice that the central part of the page has many links. Select the link that corresponds with whatever type of source you are trying to cite.

                CM MLA copy

 At the next screen, you’ll see multiple text box fields and descriptions next to each box. This is where you will fill in as much information as you can about your source. Remember that you won’t always be able to fill all of these fields, so input as much information as you can. Once that’s done, click on the giant “make citation” button.

CM MLA example with button copy

That’s it! In the top box, there is a properly formated citation that can be used in your works cited page. Also, in the bottom box there is a ready-to-use in-text citation. Simple, right?

CM MLA final product copy

While Son of Citation Machine is a great resource for creating citations, it doesn’t teach you how to put citations into your paper or even how to cite correctly. Therefore, I usually use a style guide in addition to using Son of Citation Machine. For MLA and APA styles, Purdue OWL is really great.

Check it out, and happy citing!

Featured Resource: Purdue OWL

Hello again, it is time for a new featured resource! This time we will be taking a look at the Purdue OWL website. As a consultant one of the most frequent questions I help students with is how to cite sources. Citations are difficult for many reasons, but the Purdue OWL is one great option for finding examples of how to cite your sources.

Whether it be MLA or APA formatting the OWL has the answers. This resource is great for many reasons. The first being that each subject has a visual explanation and examples.

In addition to citing guides, the OWL also has tutorials and exercises for students, tutors, and teachers. When tackling a new subject, these tutorials can help provide a brief introduction to how to best execute the usage of your source material. If you look at the Teacher and Tutor Resources page and select any of the options you will find yourself at different exercises and presentations to help along the way.

screenshot of Purdue OWL website

Trouble with Citation? There’s a Machine for that.

Clients at the WC often come in with concerns about citation. I’ve had people, from freshmen to graduate students, come to me asking how to do MLA/APA/Chicago style citation, and with all the scary stuff (read: implicit threats) written about academic honesty and plagiarism, it’s understandable why. Citation is a necessary part of academic writing, but it’s a new thing to a lot of college students, and there’s anxiety about getting it right.

So when people ask me how to cite certain sources, I don’t give them a style guide, or tell them the order of things on a bibliographic entry. I show them Citation Machine. Citation Machine is a tool to help writers cite their sources in the proper format, simply by formatting the raw citation data. It won’t take any of the legwork out of actually finding the sources or their necessary information, but it does cut down on the headache of knowing where in a citation goes a period, italics, quotes, initials, etc. Continue reading

Featured Resource: TED Talks

This week we will be introducing a new bi-weekly article to our website users. The featured resource entry will cover different resources to help our clients more effectively construct and execute their writing.

As a consultant one of the most frequent questions I receive is: “What are good resources to help me write my paper?” The purpose of this reoccurring article is to provide our users with different resources that may help in many different aspects of your writing. Some of the resources will be websites that provide credible information that can then be cited within your document, while others will be resources that answer formatting questions.

This week we will be covering TED Talks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and is nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED Talks is a resource that features videos of different types of presentations. Some of these presentations are scholarly conference presentations, comedy routines, motivational speakers, and music videos.

All of these videos are credible resources to use in your writing assignments, and many are downright interesting. In preparation for this article I watched some of the videos to observe and analyze so I could better understand the usefulness of this resource.

One of the videos I watched, titled “Cesar Harada: A Novel Idea of Cleaning Up Oil Spills,”  covers a revolutionary concept which multiplies the effectiveness of “oil absorbents” connected to fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico.

This one example showed me many ways these talks can be useful. The first and primary way is the fact that these talks cover current issues in a way that is interactive and understandable across audiences. I didn’t need to know what the chemical properties of oil were or how the current method that is used is ineffective because Cesar Harada used visual elements to illustrate both of these properties. Harada was not talking about the Exxon Valdez, an oil spill that happened twenty years ago, but he spoke about an issue that was currently effecting the way people live in the Gulf today.

As a student, it can be difficult to find up-to-date resources that tackle “current events”, but TED Talks provides a large database of videos doing just that.

The second way that I found TED Talks to be useful was that all of these sources are credible. As a student at any level in the college process, credible resources can be difficult to locate, but more importantly, knowing what sources are credible and which are not becomes difficult at times due to the prevalence of websites like Wikipedia.

Websites like Wikipedia provide massive amounts of information and are always a good place to start, but rarely can we use Wikipedia itself as a credible source. TED Talks remedies this problem in a few ways: first, through a brief search through oil spills on Wikipedia, I found the previously mentioned video as a primary source for oil spill technology; second, TED Talks is its own massive database that has easy to locate tags, with nearly all of the academic videos being presented by professors, students still in college, or professionals who write scholarly articles and establish their credibility by presenting the different processes in which their video presentations are created and the topics they discuss are researched.

The third and last way covered in this article that I found TED Talks useful is: that it is a great resource when you are looking for ideas to start your paper. The amount of different topics on TED Talks is truly mind blowing. There is a little bit for every academic field, and quite a bit for pop culture.  These conversations cover all of the bases. Nearly any topic that may interest you can be easily found.

TED Talks is a great resource that provides credible sources that can be relied upon. Whether you are stuck trying to figure out a topic that you want to write about or you want to find a current approach to age old problem, chances are  TED Talks will have something to help you.

 

Introducing Our Podcast Archive

In the transition to our new website we’ve also been harvesting content from the old website, which means we’ve found some awesome Writing Center gems. Like an assortment of informative podcasts! Rather than let these podcasts vanish into the ether, we’ve decided to archive them on our new site. You can find the entire collection in our Podcast Archive. But first let me tell you a bit about what we have to offer.

The archive is broken down into three collections: Writing Center produced podcasts, Writing Center workshops and presentations, and guest lectures and workshops.

The Writing Center produced podcasts include topics like citations, primary sources, resumes, and thesis statements, as well as a three-part series on writing with poetry. Each of these podcasts is about 5 minutes long, and is scripted to cover the basics of each topic. For example, the Citations podcast explains why giving credit with citations is important, introduces MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, and discusses the use of in-text citations and works cited pages. These quickly delivered podcasts would be great support material for writing instructors.

The Podcast Archive also features a robust collection of Writing Center workshops and presentations given by Writing Center staff and faculty. This includes workshops on personal statements, Comic Life, and poster displays using CRAP principles (contrast, repetition, arrangement, and proximity), as well as presentations on the use of podcasts in writing centers, grammar as a higher order concern, professional development, and a presentation given by our very own associate director, Dianna Baldwin, on the use of Second Life, an online virtual world, in writing centers. Dianna speaks a bit about the history of SL and argues that SL brings personal connection back to online consulting through the use of the voice feature, as well as gestures controlled by the user. *

And finally, our last collection of podcasts in the archive is guest lectures and workshops featuring three scholars in the field of rhetoric and composition: Dr. Paul Matsuda, Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University; Dr. Tony Silva, Director of ESL Graduate and Writing Programs at Purdue University; and Dr. Kirk St. Amant, Associate Professor of Technical and Professional Communication at East Carolina University specializing in global education in online environments. Each of these scholars were guests at Michigan State, and we are fortunate to have podcasts of these events for folks to listen to and learn from.

We hope this rich and varied collection of knowledge and expertise available in our Podcast Archive will make it to your playlists, and perhaps even your writing courses.

 

*The Writing Center at MSU has a satellite location in Second Life, with appointments from 9am – 10pm Monday – Thursday, and 9am – 2pm Friday. Schedule a Second Life consultation!