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Center for Academic Support Home Page: Citation Station

Home page for the Center for Academic Support, Denver Campus

Quick Links to Citation Guides

To view MLA and APA formatting basics and citation examples (including culinary-related examples), visit Step 5 of the Library's Research Process guide.

To view research methods and style guides for any citations style (MLA, APA, ASA, Chicago Manual, etc.) visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).


How Professors Can Help, and What Students Should Expect

  • Take time to explain the research conventions in your particular discipline, and how the citation method you’ve chosen fits into that. (See MLA versus APA chart for an example.)
  • Explain not just what the rules are, but why they exist.
  • Allow students time to practice under your guidance.
  • Clarify what a “source” means, rather than just requiring a certain number of them.
  • Encourage students to not just find sources that already agree with them, but to collect a variety of sources that engage in a conversation around a particular topic in a variety of ways. That is, a source shouldn’t prove a point beyond a doubt, but provide a step on the way to forming a coherent argument.

Using Source Effectively and Properly

While citing sources can initially seem like a matter of just following the proper rules, these rules can seem arbitrary or confusing if not seen in the context of the subject the student is studying. As always, consult the assignment, your professor, and the citation manual to make sure you use the best practices.

See below for Common Misperceptions and a New View

Misperceptions A New View
Citing sources means simply memorizing MLA, APA, etc. rules.

The rules reflect things the disciplines value. When put in context, seemingly arbitrary rules (like why the period has to come after the parentheses) begin to make sense. Besides, the rules change over the years.

Proper citation (of MLA, APA, etc.) means that a student hasn’t plagiarized.

Someone may not have technically plagiarized, but he may easily use excessive or irrelevant quotes throughout his paper, which indicates he has not adequately processed the material and hasn’t gained a greater understanding of the context. That is, he may have looked stuff up, but he hasn’t done research.

Improper citation means a student has plagiarized.

Since proper citation requires a lot practice, someone can easily make unintentional mistakes. It’s best to use resources available, such as the Writing Center or Purdue OWL to check your work. (See resources on our Faculty page for additional information on plagiarism.)

Correct citation can be taught (or told) to students once, after which they will be able to do it perfectly.

To be good at anything, including citing our sources, we need to practice it continuously.

A student who doesn’t cite properly doesn’t care about her work.

Incorporating sources into a paper requires a deep understanding about how particular disciplines make and represent knowledge. The more she knows about how and why knowledge is created in a subject, the “cleaner” her citation will be.