Citations & Referencing Tools
What is a Citation?
A citation tells your readers that certain ideas or material in your writing came from someone else - another source. Citations also provide your reader with all the information they need to find the source that you used.
It is essential to cite your sources because citing:
- helps you to avoid plagiarism (passing off someone else’s ideas as your own);
- shows how much research you have done; and
- strengthens your argument and provides credibility to your work.
When Should I Cite?
You need to cite whenever you use someone else's ideas, words or other media (such as a videos, blogs, speeches, pictures).
How do I Cite?
The way that you cite depends on the citation style. There are a number of different citation styles, and the ones commonly used at GU-Q are APA, MLA and Chicago.
Find out what citation style your professor would like you to use and refer to the appropriate citation style section to help you cite correctly.
APA Video - This video is an introduction to APA produced by GU-Q Writing Center
APA Style Blog - APA’s blog is a great place to get the information you need about APA.
APA Formatting & Style Guide - This guide by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is a comprehensive resource for learning about APA.
Sample APA Paper - If you are a more visual learner, this sample paper by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is extremely helpful in understanding the mechanics of APA.
MLA Video This video is an introduction to MLA produced by GU-Q Writing Center
MLA Formatting & Style Guide - This guide by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is a comprehensive resource for learning about MLA.
Sample MLA Paper - If you are a more visual learner, this sample paper by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is extremely helpful in understanding the mechanics of MLA.
Chicago Video This video is an introduction to Chicago produced by GU-Q Writing Center
Chicago Manual - This guide by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is a comprehensive resource for learning about Chicago.
Sample Chicago Paper - If you are a more visual learner, this sample paper by the Purdue Online Writing Lab is extremely helpful in understanding the mechanics of Chicago.
Citation Generators and Referencing Tools
To make life a lot easier, some students use citation generators and referencing software to save time when generating their reference list and in-text citations.
Zotero generates in-text citations and bibliographies, which will save you so much time! It’s also a great tool to help you gather and organize your sources. To learn how to use Zotero, either:
- make an appointment with a librarian or the Writing Center.
- view user-friendly tutorials.
Techniques for Brainstorming - Watch this video from Texas A&M Writing Center to get ideas on different ways to brainstorm.
Developing a strong thesis takes time and is part of the writing process. Start with a working thesis that will guide your writing, and as you begin to write, you will be able to refine it. These resources will help you to develop a strong thesis statement:
Steps in Constructing a Thesis Statement - This resource from the Harvard College Writing Center sets out steps in constructing a thesis.
Developing a Strong Thesis Statement - This brief resource highlights the elements of a thesis statement as well as providing some examples.
Most academic essays share the same basic structure. However, there may be differences in content and style depending on the discipline. These resources will help you understand how to structure a standard academic essay:
Argumentative Essay - This resource from Purdue Online Writing Lab sets out the same basic structure of an essay and also provides helpful tips about how to use evidential support and counter arguments to strengthen your argument.
A strong body paragraph explains, proves, and/or supports your thesis. A well written paragraph revolves around one idea, has a topic sentence, and uses transitions effectively. To learn how to develop and structure your paragraphs, refer to these links:
Elements of a Paragraph - This resource from Purdue Online Writing Lab provides basic advice on creating coherent paragraphs.
Developing Strong Paragraphs - This handout from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill provides a step-by-step process to develop strong paragraphs that clearly express your ideas.
Usually the first sentence of a paragraph, a topic sentence expresses the main idea of the paragraph and often serves as the “mini thesis” for that paragraph.
Using Topic Sentences - This brief and useful resource from the University of Toronto Writing Center provides further information on topic sentences and how to write a good topic sentence.
Transitions = Flow
Transitions help your paper flow; they create connections between and within your paragraphs so that your paper does not seem abrupt. They also make it easier to understand your argument.
How to Use Transitional Expressions and Words - This handout from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill provides information about the types of transitions you can use (between sections, between paragraphs and within paragraphs) as well as a list of useful transitional expressions.
Comprehensive List of Transitional Words - This resource from the Michigan State University Writing Center provides a comprehensive list of transitional words and expressions that can be used to make your writing flow.
In academic writing, it is important that your reader knows when something is your idea or someone else’s. If you use someone else’s idea or you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, you must cite the source.
When using quotations:
- Choose quotes that support the points you are making;
- Frame your quotations by providing connections between your ideas and the quotations — do not just drop them into your writing. Every quotation needs to have your own words appear in the same sentence; and
- Cite your source, including the page number.
When and How to Quote - This resource from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, although a little lengthy, provides very useful information to help you figure out when and how you should quote.
Templates for Introducing and Explaining Quotes - This quick guide provides you with useful templates to integrate quotes into your paper.
When you paraphrase, you use your own words to express someone else's ideas. To paraphrase properly, you must:
- alter the structure of the sentence and change the vocabulary;
- cite your source.
Quick Guide to Paraphrasing - This useful guide from the University of Texas A&M Writing Center sets outs when and how to paraphrase.
How and When to Paraphrase - This resource from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill provides additional strategies for paraphrasing.
Summarizing involves putting the author's main points into your own words.
Summarizing Steps - This useful guide from the University of Texas A&M Writing Center sets out the steps to take in order to effectively summarize material.
Your introduction provides a road map for your paper. It identifies the topic, provides context, and states your thesis. It should also make the reader want to read your paper.
Quick Tips for Writing an Introduction - This resource from the University of Toronto Writing Center provides useful advice about how to write an effective introduction.
Strategies for Writing and Revising Introductions - This resource from the Writing Center of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains the function of an introduction and ways to write one effectively.
Conclusions leave a lasting impression on the reader; they should wrap up the paper in a memorable way. Conclusions are more than just a summary of your argument. They should justify your argument and bring it to a logical end. These resources should help you to write a good conclusion:
Quick Tips for Writing a Conclusion - This resource from the Purdue Online Writing Lab succinctly describes the generally accepted content of a conclusion.
Strategies for Writing a Conclusion - This resource from the Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains the function of a conclusion and how to write one effectively.
Quick Tips for Proofreading - This resource from the University of Minnesota, Center for Writing provides useful tips on how to proofread and edit your paper.
Grammar and Sentence Structure
Basic Sentence Structure - This brief handout clearly sets out the structure of different types of sentence structures and how to punctuate them correctly.
Sentence Patterns - For a more detailed explanation of sentence structure, refer to this handout from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
A run-on sentence occurs when two complete sentences are not joined properly into a single sentence. There are two types of run-ons, comma splices and fused sentences. Learn how to fix them from the sources below:
Fixing Run-On Sentences - This resource from the University of Minnesota, Center for Writing will help you to fix run-on sentences.
Identifying Run-Ons and Comma Splices - Get practice identifying run-on sentences and comma splices by doing this online exercise from AIMS Community College.
Correcting Run-On Sentences - Get some practice correcting run-on sentences by doing this online exercise from the Learning Center at D'Youville College.
Correcting Comma Splices - Get some practice correcting comma splices by doing this online exercise from the Learning Center at D'Youville College.
Reading & Note Taking
Effective Reading - This resource from the Academic Skills Center at the University of New South Wales provides useful tips for effective reading.
Reading Difficult Material - This resource from the Academic Skills Center at the University of New South Wales provides tips on how to read difficult material.
Note Taking Tips - This resource from the Academic Skills Center at the University of New South Wales outlines note-taking techniques to use when reading.
Writing in the Disciplines
Never written a history paper before? Not sure how to write an English paper? Please refer to the following guides to steer you in the right direction:
A Brief Guide to Writing the History Paper - This guide from Harvard College provides concise information concerning the essentials of writing a history paper.
A Brief Guide to Writing the Philosophy Paper- This guide from Harvard College provides concise information concerning the essentials of writing a philosophy paper.
A Brief Guide to Writing the English Literature Paper - This guide from Harvard College provides concise information concerning the essentials of writing an English literature paper.
Writing in Political Science - This guide from Duke University’s Writing Studio sets out a step-by-step process to write a political science paper.