Documentation

When you report the results of your research, you are expected to let readers know where you got your information. There are several purposes in documenting sources:

  1. You must give credit to the author of ideas, facts, and statistics that you use in your paper
  2. Citing sources gives your paper more credibility, because you have the words and ideas of scholars in the field helping you support your opinions.
  3. Your readers might want to find the sources that you have used to start their own research.

Keeping those three purposes for documentation can help guide you in knowing when to document material. If the information is not common knowledge in the field and it is not your original idea or opinion on the topic, you should document it.

You will place a note inside the text itself, letting your readers know that the material is not original. You will then follow up with a complete listing of your sources at the end of the paper. There are various methods of documentation; the method you use will depend on your discipline. Ask your teacher for guidance on what style you are to choose. A list of documentation styles follows:

Different disciplines emphasize different information in documentation. For example, in the social sciences, where dates are very important when citing research, the citation format includes the date of publication in each parenthetical citation. CBE (Council of Biology Editors) endorses two styles. One includes arranging the reference list according to the order that the sources were numerically cited in the text, and the other lists author and date in a parenthetical citation in the text along with a reference list at the last. It is a matter of emphasis. The information that a discipline deems important will probably be the information that is included in the citation.

 

MLA Style Documentation

MLA documentation is used in the humanities, including English. MLA documentation requires an in-text parenthetical citation with the author's last name and the page number that the source material came from. If you use the author's last name in your source attribution, then you need only put the page number in parentheses. At the end of the paper, you will include a list of all of the sources you used in the paper entitled Works Cited, alphabetized by the author's last name. For a detailed explanation of MLA citations, see A Guide for Writing Research Papers based on "Modern Language Association (MLA) Documentation" from Capital Community College , an academic leader in producing helpful web tutorials and materials for English students. You can also go directly to the offical MLA homepage or the Fulwiler ebook for an overview, in text citations, or works cited list.

 

APA Style Documentation

APA documentation is used mainly in the social sciences, and although the format uses parenthetical documentation, the citation includes the author's last name and the date of publication of the materials. If you are quoting directly, you will also cite the page number, but you shouldn't have as many direct quotations in APA as you would in MLA, since many academic authors of English papers quote from the literature they are discussing.

An excellent source for learning details on the APA method of documentation is APA In-Text Citation from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

In addition, the American Psychological Association web site has a great deal of information on how to cite electronic resources in Electronic Reference Formats Recommended by the American Psychological Association. You can also go to the Fulwiler ebook for an overview of APA, for a list of in-text citations, or references list.

 

CBE Style Documentation

The Council of Biology Editors' citation style is used in the natural sciences and endorses two formats. One is a citation-sequence system, which includes arranging the reference list according to the order that the sources were numerically cited in the text. The other is a style that lists author and date in a parenthetical citation in the text along with a reference list at the end of the work. For a detailed explanation of the CBE style of documentation, see the University of Illinois Writing Center's Writing Handouts page on CBE documentation. You can also go directly to the officeal CBE homepage or the Fulwiler ebook for an overview of CBE or a list of examples.

 

CM Style Documentation

The Chicago Manual of Style uses a footnoting or endnoting system for documenting sources within a paper. There is a corresponding bibliography at the end of the paper for cross reference. You can find detailed information about using the Chicago Manual of Style, sometimes called the Turabian method, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center in the Writer's Handbook page entitled Documentation: Chicago Style. You can also go directly to the homepage for the Chicago Manual or the Fulwiler ebook for an overview or a list of examples.

COS Style Documentation

The COS style is an expanded version of Janice Walker’s Walker/ACW style sheet (1994), and is endorsed by the Alliance for Computers and Writing. COS addresses some of the trickier issues in online documentation by establishing clear guidelines for online citation style. You can find detailed information about using COS style at the COS homepage or by looking in the Fulwiler ebook for an overview or a list of examples.

For a basic introduction to COS, visit the Columbia Online Style Homepage.

Citing Your Sources in COS

Parenthetical (In-Text) Citations

Parenthetical references to print publications usually include the author's last name and the page number of the reference (MLA) or the author's last name, the date of publication, and the page number of the reference (APA, CBE). However, for many electronic sources, some or all of these elements may be missing. Parenthetical references to electronic sources therefore include only an author's last name or, if no author's name is available, the file name. For scientific styles, use the date of publication or the date of access if no publication date is available.

For files without a determinable author, editor or organization, include the file name in parentheses (i.e., writing.html). For scientific styles with no designation of publication date, include the date of access instead, in day-month-year format (i.e., 31 July 2000).

If they are included in the electronic text, list navigational aids such as page, section, or paragraph numbers at the conclusion of the citation, separated by commas. For most electronic sources, however, navigational aids will not be included.

Preparing a Works Cited General Format

As a general rule, the second and subsequent lines of a COS or MLA citation are indented five spaces under the first line.

 

Author's Last name, Author's First name. "Title of Document."

Title of Complete Work (if applicable). Version

or File Number, if applicable. Document date or date

of last revision (if different from access date).

Protocol and address, access path or directories

(date of access).

 

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