The other day at the reference desk, a student asked about how to cite images that she found online, but originally appeared in an early 20th-century British newspaper. Many times the citations and bibliography can be just as confounding as writing the paper itself! As the semester starts to wind down, I thought I’d highlight a few of them and provide some tips to make things easier.
There are several different style guides, the chief ones being Chicago, Turabian, MLA (Modern Language Assocation), APA (American Psychological Assocation), AMA (American Medical Assocation), CSE (Council of Science Editors), and ACS (American Chemical Society.)
Why are there so many different styles? Basically each style highlights a different aspect of a particular bibliographical source, depending on the field. Science, for example, tends to focus more on journal articles instead of monographs, which is more common in the humanities, and its citation style tends to focus on the article itself, and not the authors. Science articles often have many coauthors, hence they are abbreviated to make the entry shorter and more concise.
Humanities sources tend to be written by a single person (although I think this may be starting to change, but that’s a topic for another post.) Check out some examples of MLA style here, and you’ll quickly see it is a bit less concise than CSE style, and both the authors/contributors and the work are generally given equal emphasis.
Being exact with citation and bibliographical style is important because it was what lends your work its veracity. A poorly constructed citation entry will make the reader think you did not actually consult the source, or, at a minimum, make it very difficult for the reader to find. This is the key idea while writing these; the reader should be able to find the source given the information in the citation or entry.
At Lauinger we do have a few tools to you help you sort through the different styles (you can navigate to the link page from the Research link at the top, then click on Citations Tools.) Most citations/entries are quite straightforward, but you may need to piece together different kinds of entries for something like the situation I mentioned at the start of this post.
Feel free to contact any librarian for any help you may need for this. I actually love making bibliographies, they’re kind of like putting together a little skeleton for your paper…but I guess that’s one reason why I became a librarian! Have a good week and thanks for reading.