How do I cite properly?

First, find out which style your professor wants you to use.  You don’t want to miss a piece of information and have to go back and find it all – this is so time-consuming.  We have short guides online and in the library to help with formatting your citations.

While you research, make sure to record the information listed below – all citation styles use the same basic information, they just might change the order around, or which words are capitalized, and punctuation.  Writing down these details  as you go will save you HEAPS of time at the end of your paper  [Nothing is more frustrating than tracking down your citations after you’ve written your paper.]

For all resource types you’ll need:

  1. Author
  2. Title
  3. Year of publication

For books, you’ll also need:

  1. Place of publication (city name)
  2. Publisher
  3. Edition number, if applicable
  4. Editor(s) name(s), if applicable

For journal articles, you’ll also need:

  1. Journal title
  2. Volume number
  3. Issue number
  4. Page numbers

For websites you’ll also need:

  1. Website title (along with the webpage title you recorded above)
  2. The date you accessed or looked at the webpage
  3. The URL

You might need additional information if you’re citing a special kind of book or journal, but the above details will get you started.  I’ll include some example of finished citations below, although you’ve likely seen them before:

Solzhenitsyn, A. (2005). One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich. New York: Bantam Deli.

Kernis, M. H., Cornell, D., Sun, C.R., Berry, A., & Harlow, T. (1993). There’s more to self-esteem than whether it is high or low: The importance of stability of self-esteem.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1190-1204.

There are products that help with organizing your citations (called citation management software), but my advice is to use whatever systems feels most comfortable.  I used to keep a print copy of everything, with the citation written along the top; a friend of mine would create an excel spreadsheet.

Feel free to bring in your citation questions to the library desk!

RefWorks and Zotero: What do they do?

Update: Western Libraries no longer supports RefWorks. They do have information and tutorials about how to best use the free citation management systems offered to students here.

Note: Western Libraries will have RefWorks until August 2015. If you are a Western RefWorks user, we recommend migrating your citations to Zotero, another citation management tool – it is free, and easy to use!

There are a variety of programs available to help you organize your research while you go: Western Libraries pays for access to one system called RefWorks.  I like to use the free Firefox plug-in called Zotero. While they do a lot more, these programs have a few major features:

  1. While you research, you can send resources’ citation information to RefWorks or Zotero.  This means that you’ll be able to find these references later and you don’t have to write them down as you go.  Usually (although there are some exceptions) this is a very easy process.
  2. You can create properly formatted bibliographies from the references you save with just the click of a button.  Most journal styles and citation formats are already inputted into Zotero and RefWorks (I’ve never had a problem finding the citation style of a Brescia professor).
  3. When you’re ready to write your paper, RefWorks and Zotero will also insert citations into Microsoft Word.  This really reduces the amount of time you need to spend worrying about in-text citations and bibliographies.

There are always cons to things that sound this awesome, especially when they involve technology.  My biggest issue with RefWorks is that importing citations isn’t always straight forward.  Sometimes it takes multiple steps and sometimes it messes up.  This means you still have to be diligent and pay attention while creating your list of references. Both Zotero and RefWorks do not necessarily format your bibliographies the way that your professors require, either.

This is just the tip of the iceburg about what these programs offer, so if you’d like to learn more you can visit RefWorks at Western Libraries and Zotero.