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Annotated Bibliography: Cite

This guide will help you craft an annotated bibliography, either as part of an assignment or as an exercise to improve your thinking or clarify your research strategy.

What is a citation?


A citation is a formal reference to a published or unpublished source that you consulted and obtained information from, such as the title, author, title of publication (if it's a periodical) and publisher (if it's a book).The citation is always done according to the rules provided by a specific style; the most common ones include MLA, Chicago and APA, although there are lots of others. The style guide dictates what information you provide in your citation, and the specific manner in which you provide it.

Why do I have to cite resources?


Citations help anyone reading your work to see exactly what resources you've used to put it together, and to draw upon those resources themselves if they choose to. Just as important, citations help others evaluate the work you've done. As such, it's a key aspect of the ways that scholars provide information to one another — and, subsequently, create new scholarship. Citing your work — being transparent, clear and accurate about your sources — is also an important means to help avoiding plagiarism or academic dishonesty.

How do I make a citation?


First, decide upon a citation style (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.), which will be applied to all resources in your bibliography. Frequently, your professor will ask for a given citation style; these are often dictated by the specific discipline. Once you've done that, follow these three steps:

  1. Figure out what kind of source it is (book, journal article, newspaper article, website, etc.).
  2. Find the style guide's listing for that source.
  3. Create the citation according to the specifications that the style guide provide for that source.

Easy, right? What will make it easier is knowing where to find information about how to style a citation. One site that librarians, students and professors frequently use is the Online Writing Center, or OWL, from Purdue University — click here to go to that site. OWL has pages dedicated to the MLA and APA style guides, and provide a lot of the answers you'll need. For Chicago style, a similarly easy-to-use guide is available from the source itself; click here for the Chicago Style "quick guide."

And so, using our example, we've decide to apply MLA style to our citations. We found this particular resource — an article that was published in the journal American Ethnologist — using an electronic database, JSTOR. So if we go to  OWL's MLA page and then click on "MLA Works Cited: Electronic Resources," we can scroll down to the listing for "An article from an online database (or other electronic subscription service)." We then find all the information we need in order to create the listing, including the author, article title, publication name, publication issue and volume number, year of publication, page numbers, name of database, medium (e.g., "Web") and date of access. We then arrange this information in the manner provided by the example, and wind up with the following finished product:

Abu-Lughod, Lila. “The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women.” American Ethnologist, vol. 17, no. 1, 1990, pp. 41-55. JSTOR, Accessed 18 May 2017.

Additionally, you can consult this handy Guide to Citation Guides, created by Shain librarians, to find more sources for citation help, including electronic bibliography managers such as RefWorks, automatic citation generators, and various citation styles.