Research in any field (not least in the social sciences) operates upon the foundation of a wealth of other people’s works. As such, when you use information derived from somebody’s hardy efforts, the least you could do to express some measure of gratitude is to cite that person.
Citation is occasionally a tricky ordeal. The format required largely depends on your audience; for Govt. department honor theses, the format usually expected is that of the American Political Science Association (APSA).
e.g: Knopf, Jeffrey W. 2006. “Doing a Literature Review.” PS: Political Science & Politics 39(01): 127-132.
However, the format expected for specific classes really depends on the preference of the professor (or whoever’s grading the papers). Besides APSA, common citation styles include Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, and Turabian. As always, check with the professor you are writing for or your advisor if you are unsure.
Finding out how to produce the desired citation format is pretty easy on the internet, but to make your life easier the following are some basic websites and .pdf files that should send you on your way.
Chicago Manual of Style (Quick Guide): http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
- Martin, Peter W. 2010. “Introduction to Basic Legal Citation.” Online and print available.
- Akehurst-Moore, Scott. “A Bluebook Guide for Law Students.” Suffolk University Law School.
There are also a couple of conversion-engines available online, like EasyBib.com, that provide free service. However, they are often limited in their range of options and using it comes with an inherent level of skepticism and uncertainty (as there is indeed no such thing as a free lunch).
Alternatively, you could also consider Zotero, a free easy-to-use reference management software that’s really helpful if you’re scouring the web for research material. It allows you to gather, organize, and analyze sources you find on the internet. More importantly, it also automatically structures your sources into your desired citation format through an easy click-and-drag system. There are issues, however. It’s a Mozilla extension, so it only works with that web browser. It’s also slightly clunky in its design, a tad bit buggy, has limited citation output formats (though it does have the important ones), and clogs up your browser screen due to the fact that it is an in-browser app. Regardless, it’s a big help in terms of citing sources.
To get it, head over to http://www.zotero.org/.
On that note, you could also consider EndNote, a commercial reference management software which is beefier and external to any single web browser – traits which are both a blessing and a curse. There is a trade-off picking between EndNote and Zotero, but ultimately it comes down to your personal research and writing style. Now, EndNote usually costs quite a bit of money, but it’s available for free (as long as you’re a Wes student) on WesFiles. Here’s what you do:
- Head over to https://wesfiles.wesleyan.edu
- Enter your username and password, as usual.
- At first, you’ll just see the folder “web.” Either,
- Click on the Folder icon in the directory line, which is located next to a star and an up-arrow icon. Or,
- Click on the Up-arrow icon next to the star icon a couple of times.
- You’ll now see a couple of files, including but not limited to: “campus committees,” “campus groups,” and “courses.”
- What you want is to double-click on “software.”
- If you use a PC, double-click on PC Soft. If you use a Mac, double-click on MacSoft. (easy stuff, right?)
- Then double-click on “All.”
- Then double-click on “EndNote” (of course).
- You’ll then see a couple of options of which version you want to install. Logically, you want the latest one (which is X4, but I think we’re stuck with X3 for now). But if you’re picky or extremely specific with what you want, you should go over the update notes to see what was added and what dropped, and pick whichever version you feel is most suitable for you.
Word in is that each Wes student is limited to two downloads each (a legal/copyright/contractual thing, apparently), so pick your computer well!
If you have any questions or reservations about the programs suggested here, go see a friendly neighborhood Instructional Media Services (IMS) rep. or the Olin librarians (Erhard Konerding in particular. He’s really helpful with references in general as well. Email him at email@example.com). I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to help you out.
- UC Berkeley’s Guide to Citation Styles: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/citations.html
- Williams’ Guide to the Chicago Manual of Style: http://library.williams.edu/citing/styles/chicago2.php
- Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference. This is what I have used since I was an undergraduate. It contains sections on Composing and Revising, Effective Sentences, Word Choice, Grammatical Sentences, ESL Trouble Spots, Punctuation, Mechanics, Research Writing, Documentation (how you reference your sources), and Basic Grammar. Her main website – http://www.dianahacker.com/ – is also useful.
- Another good resource is The Little, Brown Handbook (which is neither little nor brown). It covers the same range of topics as Hacker’s book above does.