Friday, February 15, 2008

Citing Sources

Citing Sources

When and How to Cite Research Sources by Janie Lynn Panagopoulos

This is our last article on research sources. I am sure there are a few of you that are very glad about that. Now, down to business, the work of properly citing research sources for your writing varies, depending upon the source and how it is used.

First and foremost -- remember -- Citing a source gives credit where credit is due, not citing a source could lead you in the direction of plagiarism.

When should you cite your source? If you have quoted an author (including Internet authors) or have used any words or arranged words in a sentence that is not originally yours. Yes, I know, no words are originally our own, but if these words or sentences have been arranged to fashion someone else’s writing or if it “hints” at giving you credit when you have not preformed the original research, you are doing something illegal.

Cite a source if:

you restate an idea or thought stated by another author.
you are not the original person involved in the original source research.
you are using facts that are not common knowledge.

Types of citing:

Parenthetical (citing within a text)

Endnotes (explanatory or information at the end of your writing)

Footnotes (older form of citing placed at the bottom of page)

Information you need to collect (depending upon source):

Periodical: title of original publication, author of the article, title of article, date of publication, volume and or issue number, page number.

Book: title of book, editor, series title, publisher, publication date, volume number, article and chapter title (if needed) and authors name.

Internet: name of author, URL, name of Internet site.

Email: name of person interviewed, subject line in quotation marks, description of message that includes the recipient and date of message.

Panagopoulos, Janie L. “Re: IP Videoconferencing”. Email to You the Reader, 17 December, 2008.

Images: (any media) name of artist, name of individual image, when it was created, where it is currently housed or from what collection, URL (if on Internet), and date of posting.

(if on Internet)

Maps: name of location, where it was found, what year issued, and URL.

Formatting Sources:
List of citation usually appears at end of work on new page
Center title “Works Cited”
Double-space between title and first entry.
Begin entry at left-hand margin – second line – five spaces in
Alphabetical order of entries by author’s last name (if known) or first important word in the title, excluded “a”, “an”, and “the”.
Author with more than one work cited, do not repeat name, use three hyphens and a period in place of author’s name and cite work as above.
Double-space entire list and use a period at end of entries.
Underline titles of books, plays, poems, pamphlets, periodicals, and films.
These sites may be of help while creating your form

Easy bib:


Landmark’s Citation Machine:

Last comment, you might wonder, if you are writing a fiction piece, why is citing important? I write historical fiction that is categorized as “documentary” historical fiction, using factual people or events from history to build a story. I write for the 3rd-8th grade educational market and my books are used in schools to help teach Social Studies. For me, it is essential to have material available for teachers and readers to use as reference materials while using my novels in the classroom and it is also essential to provide documentation for editors when they ask for sources. So, getting in a regular habit of collecting and citing sources is a very important part of my work and it might also play an important role in yours.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Plagiarism – What it is and how to avoid it
Janie Lynn Panagopoulos

After gathering research information, purchasing reference books and reading through everything you have gathered, please be aware of “how not” to use the information you have found. Please know the words you write must be your own, if they are not your words and ideas, you must cite the sources or ask permission to use them.

Plagiarism is becoming a big issue today because of so many sources that are available to us to use on the Internet. Sometimes students don’t even realize they are plagiarizing; they are just putting down what they found. But if you, by chance, use the same words as the author without citing your sources, you are plagiarizing and it is illegal.

If you are a student reading this you might think, this is silly, words are words and there they are right in the open for everyone to use. Well, just because books and the Internet make information and documents readily available, it doesn’t mean you have permission (without proper citation) to use that information – word for word -- and turn it in as your own. That is cheating and considered fraud by the law. The term plagiarism refers to the unaccredited (uncited) use of someone else’s words.

But what if you accidently used someone else’s words? Well, that is illegal too.

As a historical fiction writer, one way that helps me not to use someone else’s words by accident is that I avoid reading fiction. I read only reference material or primary sources to educate myself and try to find the most unique way to present that information in a storyline.

Here are some tips to help you avoid plagiarism in your writing.
1. If you are not the original researcher on a subject, cite the source.
2. If the information is not common knowledge, such as information from a phone book, cite source.
3. Use quotation marks if you are copying the words of another author and cite the source.
4. If you copy information off the Internet, cite the source.
5. Do not use anything from the Internet, without permission of the author, especially if you see a copyright symbol on their work.
6. If you are using a book for research and you need to copy small portions of the information, word for word, cite the source.

Please, plagiarism is easy to do; be careful, aware and responsible when you are writing. Make your work original. Write it in your own words, work hard to make your work your own. There is so much more satisfaction and pleasure making your work your own. That is how you become a real writer.

And, after all, if you are copying someone else’s work, you will always only be a second best writer to that person you are copying.

Next article will cover citing sources.

J. L. Panagopoulos, 06/02/2008 ©

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Paper Trail, Part II

Research: Following the Paper Trail, Part II

When visiting research facilities, make sure you have made a list of information, dates, names (proper spellings of course), and locations that are important to your project or reflect the information you are looking for. Don’t wait until you get to a research facility to “think” what it is you are looking for. It can be very embarrassing to go to a research facility, address a reference librarian with the fact you are doing academic research on a subject for a possible book project and have the librarian ask you a question on “YOUR” subject and you don’t have the information available to give.

Study and explore card catalogs, computer databanks, collection lists and ask the reference librarian for suggestions about where else you might find information. It is amazing how “on top” of a facility most reference librarians are. Most really know their books and their collections and love to search out information that is difficult to find.

Skim and scan over information you find. Can you photocopy this information? If you can photocopy the needed information, wonderful, you are in luck. If not, start recording by hand. Make sure you have a notebook with you ‘just” for this information. Record collection and acquisition numbers, box numbers, book title page, copyright, publisher, page numbers, and the information needed.

If you are photocopying information from a book make sure you ask the librarian about the “fair use” law that they follow. YOU CAN NOT PHOTOCOPY ENTIRE BOOKS – It is illegal.

When photocopying, first, copy the front insert page that will give you the title of book, the author, the publishing house and the copyright information. Make sure when putting your material in separate folders that this title page goes in the front of the folder for later citation. Also, on the outside of the folder, write down the name of the facility, the date you visited, and the cost of photocopying (for tax write-offs if your book gets published and make sure you receive or ask for a receipt for copying).If you have not brought along separate folder files to keep your copies neat and together, make sure you tab the ends of the sheets together or better yet, paperclip them.

If, at a library, you want or need the information in the whole book, just photocopy the title page and purchase the book to help build your own reference library. The best place I have found to purchase books will take us back to our computers, where you can purchase used books for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Also, when you purchase a used book, you don’t feel so bad if you find it necessary to highlight a passage or underline something you will need to investigate as you are reading and learning more about your research subject.

If you are in a rare book collection or archival collection and you find “just” the perfect piece of information, keep in mind, you can not photocopy these things. You must hand copy the information (don’t forget to copy the cover page for citation).

In some rare cases a book or file, even if it is a reference piece, “might” be available to photocopy a certain portion. This again is where it is important to get to know the reference librarian, archivist or curator, because if they believe in your project and can make it happen for you to get the information in photocopy format, they will give you their best. If they say “no”, however, the answer is “no”. Be respectful, thank them and start copying by hand. Keep in mind; you never know when you might need their help again.

In archival collections, if photocopying is permissible, the archivist or the assistant archivist, most often, would rather handle the ancient or fragile documents themselves and not risk having the paper the documents are written on be jeopardized by careless handling or soiling. In this case, you will select the documents and records you want copied and record what collection, box, file, number of pages, and page numbers you want, write this down for you records, also record on your copy the facility name, location, person helping you, date and time. Give a copy of your information sheet to the archivist. They will figure out the number of pages, and tell you the cost for their work and copies; you “generally” have to pay up-front for these documents, and so make sure you get only what you need, but everything in the file or box.

The archivist will ask for your address and tell you to expect it to take up to six weeks before you get the information. I know it can be time consuming but worth every minute of it as you now have original (copies) of documents in the original hand of the people or person you are doing research on. It is an incredible thrill when you finally get your copied originals in the mail and you sit down to “try” and decipher writings from a bygone era.

If you are at a visual research location such as a museum, check with the curator and ask if they have a museum library or a research book list on the artifacts you are looking at. This will help you create a reference list for you to look at and purchase reference books that will help you have a better understand of the things you are doing research on.

This type of research is an incredible education for a writer; everyone should do it, at least, once to really see what it is all about. It makes you feel like Indiana Jones of the book set.