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ENGL 2322 NE Cole: Evaluating and Citing Sources in MLA Style

Tips for evaluating Sources and help with citing papers in MLA 8th edition.

Using, Evaluating and Citing Sources

Unlike personal or academic writing, technical and professional writing can be used to evaluate your job performance and can have implications that a writer may or may not have considered. Whether you are writing for colleagues within your workplace or outside vendors or customers, you will want to build a solid, well-earned favorable reputation for yourself with your writing. Your goal is to maintain and enhance your credibility, and that of your organization, at all times.

Credibility can be established through many means: using appropriate professional language, citing highly respected sources, providing reliable evidence, and using sound logic. Make sure as you start your research that you always question the credibility of the information you find. Are the sources popular or scholarly? Are they peer reviewed by experts in the field? Are the methods and arguments used based on solid reasoning and sound evidence? Is the author identifiable and does s/he have appropriate credentials? Be cautious about using sources that are not reviewed by peers or editor, or in which the information seems misleading, biased, or even false. Be a wise information consumer in your own reading and research in order to build your own reputation as an honest, ethical writer.

Quoting the work of others in your writing is fine, provided that you credit the source fully enough that your readers can find it on their own. If you fail to take careful notes, or the sentence is present in your writing but later fails to get accurate attribution, it can have a negative impact on you and your organization. That is why it is important that when you find an element you would like to incorporate in your document, in the same moment as you copy and paste or make a note of it in your research file, you need to note the source in a complete enough form to find it again.

Giving credit where credit is due will build your credibility and enhance your document. Moreover, when your writing is authentically yours, your audience will catch your enthusiasm, and you will feel more confident in the material you produce. Just as you have a responsibility in business to be honest in selling your product of service and avoid cheating your customers, so you have a responsibility in business writing to be honest in presenting your idea, and the ideas of others, and to avoid cheating your readers with plagiarized material.

Source: Hamlin, Annemarie, Chris Rubio, Michele DeSilva, and Eleanor Sumpter-Latham. "Ethics in Technical Writing." Technical Writing. Pressbooks, 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

Evaluating Websites

Remember that you can use Google to find sources. However, all sources must be creditable and written within the last five years. Make sure that all of the sources included in your paper pass the CAARP Test.

CAARP Test

The following is a list of questions to help you evaluate information that you find. Some questions, or criteria, will be more important than others, depending on the project you are working on. If you're not sure how certain criteria apply to your information source, ask a librarian for help!

 

Key: ** indicates criteria is for Web sources only

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional? **

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net) **

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • How does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Evaluating Information – Applying the CAARP Test
created by: Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

 

Many students wait until they finish writing their paper before citing their sources. They may find themselves “on a roll,” and will not want to stop to check or to cite their sources, thinking they will add their citations later. It is a better idea to cite your sources as you find them and use them.  Use these tips to help ensure that documenting your sources is quick and easy!

  1. When you decide to use a source, be sure to copy all the information required to develop a citation.
  2. When you add a quote to your paper, document the page number (or the paragraph number if no page number is present) of where the quote was found.
  3. Also, be careful when you cut and paste your quote from one of our database articles to your paper. It is all too easy, while writing, to cut and paste a quotation without also jotting down the citation information. Forgetting to document a source is considered plagiarism.

The best way to make sure you do not forget to cite the sources you use - cite while you write!

 

You will primarily be citing your sources in MLA format.  We have a lot of tools that can help with this.  If you need to create original citations, refer to the library's Style Citation, MLA handout or stop by the library or the Writing Center for help.

Most of the library databases will create an MLA citation for you.  Look around for the Cite or Cite This link on the article page.  If you email the article to yourself, the email window usually asks which citation style you need.  If you have any trouble finding this, please contact the library.

If you are using your own MLA Style book, make sure it is the 8th edition!

Other Citation Resources

Best of the Web: Plagiarism, Writing & Citing with MLA Style

Review this model paper and find other citation and writing assistance from Purdue University's OWL, including Avoiding Plagiarism and Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.

How do I cite an e-book? a tweet? Answers from the publisher of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Part of the MLA Style Center.

Citation Help - MLA

Provided below are guides to help you with MLA style Citation

1. MLA 8th ed, Handout - is a works cited documentation.

2. Visual Guide to MLA 8th ed., with MS Word Help-  is a sample paper that includes MS Word tool tips to make formatting your paper and works cited easier.

3. MLA Style Guide 8th ed. - is a guide based on the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook published in 2016.

For Writing Help contact TCCD Writing Centers 

 

 

These sites have free, online tools that can help you format citations for your works cited page.

Evaluating Information

Strive to find information that is:

  • Accurate: Inaccurate information will cause you to waste time and resources
  • Unbiased: You want sources that have NO financial stake in your project.
  • Comprehensive: You want information from different kinds of people—in terms of gender, cultural characteristics, and age—and from people representing all viewpoints on the topic.
  • Appropriately technical: Good information is sufficiently detailed to respond to the needs of your readers, but not so detailed that they cannot understand it or do not need it.
  • Current: Information that is old may not accurately reflect today’s situation. Try to stay within the last five years

Clear: You want information that is easy to understand. Do not want you or others to misinterpret it.

Plagiarism

 

Don't Do It!

At Tarrant County College, scholastic dishonesty is unacceptable and is not tolerated. Any person who is a party to scholastic dishonesty as defined below will be disciplined as prescribed in this document.

SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY is defined as misconduct including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, and collusion.

PLAGIARISM is defined as presenting as one’s own the ideas or writings of another without acknowledging or documenting the source(s).

 

Students are guilty of plagiarism when they do any of the following in an essay or presentation:

  • Copy a word or words directly from a book, periodical, or electronic source without using quotation marks and references to sources;
  • Summarize or paraphrase the ideas or opinions of an author or use the data collected by an author without citing the author as the source;
  • Submit papers or projects which do not reflect their own knowledge, voice, and style, usually as a result of having had another person (1) write, (2) rephrase, (3) rewrite, or (4) complete their ideas;
  • Submit a paper or project which was written or prepared by another person for another class or another instructor implying that the work is their original composition or project;
  • Submit a paper or project which was previously submitted to fulfill requirements for another course, unless (1) the professor permits students to draw from earlier papers/projects or (2) the professors of concurrent courses (i.e. Common Ground courses) permit students to submit a paper/project to fulfill requirements in both courses;
  • Download a paper or portions of text from an electronic source and (1) paste it into a paper, (2) retype the paper or portions of the paper and submit it as their own composition, (3) retype phrases or sentences with a few changes, and submit the paper as their own composition, or (4) summarize or paraphrase the ideas from one or more sentences, without citing the source.
  • Submit as their own work a paper (or parts of a paper) purchased from a company or electronic source that offers catalogs of essays on different topics and/or for different courses.

 

Intended or unintended plagiarism will cause you to fail an assignment and possibly this class. If you are not sure ask, go to the Writing Center, or Library. NO EXCUSES! 

Plagiarism Resources

 

Plagiarism.org - good resource for understanding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Turnitin Writecycle - this tool is used by TCC students to check their papers for plagiarism prior to submitting them for a grade. See your instructor for sign up instructions.

TCCD Plagiarism Tutorial - this tutorial contains a flash video detailing what plagiarism is and also includes a post test.