Teaching students to cite
February 23, 2009 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Desperately seeking effective online learning resources that teach undergrads how to identify academic sources, and how to cite them correctly. These could be Web pages, .docs/.pdfs, tutorials, etc. Anything interactive is a bonus.

I've gone through this a number of times with different classes. I've told them, basically, that they need to supply some form of:

Lastname, N., (DATE). Book title, or Title & Journal/Vol/Issue, or Title & Conference/ Name/Place/Location, pagenumbers. Place/Publisher where relevant.

And I keep getting back the most amazing garbage. I'm flummoxed, tired of explaining it, and want to point them to a good online, preferably interactive Web resource. Many thanks!
posted by carter to Education (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Purdue's Online Writing Lab may be helpful.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: here are two, to get you started:


posted by davemack at 9:39 AM on February 23, 2009

Telling them to just "cite consistently" NEVER works for me. I find that they always need a specific format assigned to them because they cannot consistently apply a format if they don't have one. They also can't use the "builder" tools if they don't have a specific format.

As bolognius maximus said, OWL covers many styles, which is helpful.

Word's "citation" tools aren't bad in Vista. It builds the citations in-text and compiles a Works Cited at the end in their document. You do have to show them how to manipulate document styles sometimes, but it's worth it.

Many of my students who use older versions of Word at home use Noodle Tools which allows them to build citations using an online app.
posted by answergrape at 10:05 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: From a website that I run: Identifying academic sources, APA style. It's not particularly interactive ... yet. As answergrape says, it's always easier on them to have a specific style to refer to (and APA is pretty widespread these days) in case they're using EndNote or Zotero.
posted by Paragon at 10:58 AM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: carter, these only work for books, but OttoBib will do the citation for them, in multiple styles. You just need to enter the book's ISBN. WorldCat will also generate book citations. Also, this Berkeley library page is helpful, as is this at UCLA, and the concrete examples here.
posted by gudrun at 11:03 AM on February 23, 2009

Some university libraries have "information literacy" librarians who would be happy to help with a lesson in identifying quality sources.

(I realize you asked for online resources and your kids probably hate and fear the library, but I think the old ways are best. Sorry.)
posted by scratch at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2009

Maybe you could try some sort of pair exercise, where for the first assignment, each student is randomly given the bibliography of another student and has to try and access all the materials they used (possibly for marks). This should drive home what kind of information is needed.
posted by jacalata at 3:38 PM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! This is all very helpful, and I'll incorporate a lot of this information into class and the class wiki. I think that I will go with APA.

scratch - we have excellent librarians, but sad to say, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the students don't go to the library at all these days.
posted by carter at 4:15 PM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: jacalata - that's a very good idea. I was trying to think of some exercises. I was thinking about giving them a bunch of first pages of various sorts of articles and try to get them to categorize them as academic/non-academic, and also generate cites for them.
posted by carter at 4:19 PM on February 23, 2009

Most universities have librarians with experience in this area who are happy to come teach this stuff for you in your class so the kids don't actually have to go to the library. Couldn't hurt to ask at least :)
posted by kbuxton at 4:43 PM on February 23, 2009

Best answer: Diana Hacker's documentation site has some good examples and the companion site to her grammar/style guide, A Writer's Reference, has some interactive exercises that cover MLA, APA, and Chicago.

The OWL is really great, too.
posted by wheat at 5:40 PM on February 23, 2009

When I was in college, the college had a style guide. Or specified which style guide to use. Don't they do that anymore?
posted by gjc at 6:10 PM on February 23, 2009

Not only are there style guides, but the professor can simply create pages of his/her own with examples. I'm a doctoral student and having a guide on-hand is quite helpful. In addition, as someone who has taught, I would have no problem handing such a guide to my students.
posted by Piscean at 6:47 PM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: kbuxton - yes we do have a librarian - but he's booked up for a while - his services must be in demand I think ;-)
posted by carter at 7:19 PM on February 23, 2009

Coming back to this late; the website I'm responsible for has an APA Interactive tool now that should help them to cite quickly.
posted by Paragon at 2:47 PM on February 22, 2010

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