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History Resource Guide for Aliyah Dunn-Salahuddin: MLA Citation

Citation Anxiety

Citation produces a lot of anxiety in paper writers, particularly when it's something we don't do on a regular basis.

The good news is that citation is not magic, it has a definite set of rules that you need to follow carefully, a little like a recipe or a line of computer code.

  •  Why do we cite?  The main point of citation is to indicate where you got your information.  You can think of all scholarship--like paper writing--as a conversation between scholars.  Citation is a way of name-checking others who are working in the same area.  It helps your reader track down the sources you used and it also helps avoid plagiarism.
  • What is plagiarism?  When you copy someone else's words exactly as written without quoting it, that's plagiarism.  You're taking credit for writing something you haven't written.  But it's also a little tricker than that.  If you use an idea that's common knowledge, you don't need to cite that.  As an example, if you are writing a paper and mention that 30% of college students in San Francisco report that they plan to pursue graduate education, you need to indicate where you got that info.  It's not a commonly known fact.  However, if you write that the planet Venus is the second closest to the sun, you wouldn't need to cite that, because that's commonly known factual information.
  • It's tricky, but keep practicing.  Refer to the resources on right and when in doubt, cite it!

About NoodleTools?

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NoodleTools is a web-based tool geared to helping students complete their research projects. NoodleTools offers citation, note-taking, outlining, annotation, and writing tools. It also allows for collaboration between peers and for students to easily share projects with instructors. 

Need more info? See NoodleTools resources below.

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