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Using Sources

March 4, 2013

The ability to use sources properly and responsibly is very important to students. Remember that citing your sources can only improve your essay – never weaken it! And if you don’t know how, forget or don’t bother to give the sources you have used, you will be accused of plagiarism, even if it is unintentional.

This post will show you how to give satisfactory information about the sources you use, and I will use examples from books and websites. There are many other types of sources that are cited in different ways, but the principles are the same. The essentials are:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Publication details
  • Access date (if it’s a website)

Let’s use a text from Stunt for a little exercise. The book has this reference, by the way: Kristin Maage Areklett and others, Stunt (Oslo: Samlaget, 2009).

Task 1: Look at the text “Proof Positive” on p. 295. List the sources of this article, and write down the information you can find about them in the text, along with a brief quote of what they say (all answers can be found here, but don’t look before you have finished!).

The format of how to cite a source varies, but I prefer this one, called MHRA. It looks like this:

Author’s name, Title (Place of publication: Publisher, year)

From amazon.comTask 2: Use this information about Domar’s book to write a proper source entry: Alice D. Dolmar wrote the book “Be Happy without Being Perfect” together with Alice Lesch Kelly. It was published by Piatkus in 2008, a London-based publisher.

Task 3: Use this information about Judy Molnar’s book (not mentioned in Stunt) to write a proper source entry: Judy Molnar wrote her hit book “You Don’t Have to Be Thin to Win” in 2000. It came out on Villard, which is a publishing company in New York (check your answers here as you progress through the tasks!)

Task 4: Try to do the same with these books mentioned in the text ‘Food for Thought’, Stunt, p. 291. Follow the links and have a look at the first pages in the preview to find publication details:

Skinny Bitch
Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
Dr. Susan’s Girls Only Weight Loss Guide

Then, check your answers!

Internet sources

Internet sources are slightly different, because the content can change, especially if the material is published recently. Here you also have to add the date you accessed the web page. Internet sources are listed like this:

Author, ‘Title’, name of website, published date <URL> [accessed date]

For example, for this text, the source information may look like this:

Motoko Rich, ‘Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore’, The New York Times, 18 February 2013 < http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/education/gym-class-isnt-just-fun-and-games-anymore.html > [accessed 4 March 2013]

Task 5: Try listing the source for this blog post! And then check your answer

Task 6: Now, try this one. And check your answer afterwards.

Now you know a little more about how to cite sources for your essays. Congratulations!

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