Citations: How I Loathe, yet Love Thee!

Citations: a powerful opponent, yet greatest supporter!

I will openly admit that I have been struggling with citations since my return to academia. I had forgotten how difficult and tedious citing can be at first, although, once re-learned, becomes a useful tool for enhancing work and backing up valuable points and arguments. I am slowly coming around to the fact that practise makes perfect. There will not be a quick fix in regards to the slow and painful learning curve, but there will be a strong sense of accomplishment upon re-gaining the knowledge that I once possessed.

I titled this blog entry the way that I did because I know once this learning curve passes into…well, something else, I will be thankful for the structure and guidance that citations allow me within my academic writing. Until that time – please note how white my knuckles are! This blog entry is written to give you a snapshot of how my experience with our citation assignment affected my essay writing journey this week.

I learned a lot regarding In-text citations. I researched many, many sites and instead of simply relaying that information into a blog – I wanted to show how I tried to use the information I gathered directly into my essay and experiences (including the point that made me cringe)

I used three in text citations within our essay assignment as required and I second guessed myself several times regarding the outcome. In using a long quotation I slowly followed the rule that if the quotation was over 40 words I could remove the quotation marks and enter the summary into my essay indenting from the left (like a paragraph) and ending the quotation with a page number. I am not joking when I tell you that my heart was in my mouth when I created the following within my essay:

A study written by Malatast & Associates (2009) found the following:

Counsellors spend approximately two hours on administrative and non-guidance related activities, approximately one       and a half hours on individual career counselling, and 47 minutes on career education either teaching in the class room, facilitating small groups or supporting the career education courses being taught by other teachers. There were some regional differences here as well, with counselors from Saskatchewan (predominantly part-time counselors) reporting that they spent almost half their day on administrative and non-guidance activities. (p. 2)

I also included an in-text summary within my essay. This seemed to be less strenuous on the heart, and I didn’t feel so badly about the outcome. The example is as follows:

This suggests that our students are not utilizing Co-op education as a means to further explore their skills, strengths, abilities and interests, even though counselors do strongly endorse experiential learning and time spent with professionals job shadowing and on the job training (Dietsche, 2013, p. 13)

Stop the press – here comes the cringe!

It was at this point that I suddenly realized I may have made a few essay fatal error mistakes. In continuing my research for the purpose of this blog, I noted the following:

Use quotations at strategically selected moments. You have probably been told by teachers to provide as much evidence as possible in support of your thesis. But packing your paper with quotations will not necessarily strengthen your argument. The majority of your paper should still be your original ideas in your own words (after all, it’s your paper). (The University of North Carolina Writing Center, n.d.)

So, in trying to become familiar with in-text short and long quotations I became hyper aware that this may not bode well for my 750 word essay! (I had included one in each paragraph) I’m going to be honest – I became very stressed regarding this topic over the course of the weekend! But, I recognize that if I am uncomfortable – it usually means I am learning. I decided to re-work my essay slightly. This added another (4) hours onto my essay writing time as I researched, erased, re-worked and struggled along.

Other In-text Citations that I uncovered and toyed with:

Direct Quotations:

An example of a direct quotation: Essay writing can be a stressful “and certainly a timely and complex endeavor” (Stiles, 2006, p.16)

In text citations are to include:

The sources author(s)

The Year of publication

The page number (although not always)

Reference within a source:

I have been successful in locating original works thus far, but I was interested to discover how to cite a reference, within a source.

I discovered that it should look like this:

The work of Stiles (as cited in Clarke, 2014)

Citing multiple times in one paragraph:

I found this to be very interesting, because as I am trying to remember how to write an essay – these citations rules are guiding me along and aiding me in putting together my paper. I’m aware that citing after every sentence would be ridiculous and really break up my writing style. You don’t have the option not to cite however, as that could lead to plagiarism. So, by introducing the source early on, you can continue writing without completely interrupting your flow:

Stiles (2014) describes citing and the lessons learned as tricky at first, but helpful and……

For the rest of the paragraph, the author can be referred by name: She notes that citing can be tricky. Stiles also found……

So my ongoing research and learning experiences (again, really well thought out and designed by our faculty in terms of timing and activities) have made me uncomfortable, yet I feel that I am slowly beginning to become aware of the requirements that I am facing now, and over the next year and a half. What happened with my essay you might wonder? Well, I did manage to complete it, but realize that I have quite a way to go as far as academic writing is concerned. As I learn, I’m making mistakes – but I figure that this is the only way forward and I’m not going to give up!

References

http://owll.massey.ac.nz/referencing/apa-in-text-citation.php

The University of North Carolina Writing Center. (n.d.). http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/quotations/

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