Become a District Partner Become a District Partner

Research Resources and Tips: Some Dos and Don’ts of Citations

Paraphrasing

Even if you are paraphrasing a source, and not using a direct quote, you still must cite it.

Wrong: Those who lobbied for striking down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act said that the law violated states’ rights to be equal to each other.

Right: Those who lobbied for striking down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act said that the law violated states’ rights to be equal to each other (Barnes 4).

Also right: One advocate said that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional because it violated states’ rights to be “entitled to equal dignity and sovereignty” (Blum qtd. in Barnes 4).

Works Cited: Barnes, Robert. “Supreme Court Stops Use of Key Part of Voting Rights Act.” Washington
       Post
25 June 2013: Web. 6 July 2015.

General Information

You are not required to cite general information. Think of it this way: if you can find the fact in at least five easily-accessible sources, you do not have to cite it.

Wrong: According to the Washington Post, the Constitution has 27 amendments.

Right: The Constitution has 27 amendments.

Website vs. Source

When referring to a source, quote the name of the person or organization, not the website.

Wrong: According to usconstitution.net, no one should be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Right: The Constitution says that no one should be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Wrong: According to the Department of Justice’s website, the Ferguson police department engaged in racially biased policing.

Right: According to the Department of Justice, the Ferguson police department engaged in racially biased policing.

Citing Ideas

Data and specific facts are not the only thing you need to cite. If you are building on or refuting other people’s ideas, you must cite that as well.

Wrong: If school curriculums spent more time teaching about global warming, Americans would take it more seriously.

Right: As Catherine Rampell writes, integrating lessons about global warming into school curriculums have helped young Germans to take climate change seriously (1). This could be a key way to get Americans involved from an early age as well.

Works Cited: Rampell, Catherine. “Taking Climate Change Seriously In School.” Washington Post 8 June
      2015: Web. 14 July 2015.

 

When in doubt, cite it!

Note: The articles cited above can be found in the Research Portal.