To those not familiar with the conventions of academic writing, citation styles may be a bit confusing

To those not familiar with the conventions of academic writing, citation styles may be a bit confusing. First, what is a citation style and why do we use it? As I noted in the Week Two lecture, American academic traditions put a great value on intellectual property i.e. giving credit where credit is due.

As academic discourse is all about conversations, a big part of most papers is giving our readers an idea of the history of the conversation at hand, so they can go back and read the conversation that the writer is referencing. In that way, academic citation is a sort of courtesy to fellow scholars.

But most importantly, as mentioned above, citation is a way to give credit to those who deserve credit. To take someone else’s words and use them as our own is one of the highest offenses in academia, especially in scholarly work, so citation is a way of showing due respect to those we have quoted and giving them credit for their ideas and words. On the other side of the coin, proper citation is a way to protect ourselves from claims that we have unfairly appropriated any intellectual material from others.

One of the confusing things about citation is that there are so many different citation styles. Citation styles are just different ways of citing used by different groups of academics. The citation style we will be using in this class is MLA citation style. MLA stands for “Modern Language Association.” It the basic citation style for most of the humanities. Another common citation style is APA. This is the citation style of the “American Psychological Association.” It is used in many sciences and social sciences. There are other citation styles as well.

The reason there are different citation styles is because they reflect the different values of their respective fields. APA style, for example, puts more stress on the year of publication than MLA style because in the sciences how recent the study or paper was published is of more importance than in the humanities. Also, APA style often includes an abstract of the paper. This is important in the sciences, but in the humanities often times papers cannot be summarized as easily; therefore, abstracts are not used.

MLA In-Text Citation — Instructions

1. Post one of the paragraphs from your paper (preferably one that uses many quotes) with proper MLA style in-text citation.

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