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Common Citation mistakes students make

By HWA | Publish On: January 13, 2015 | Posted In:

Citation or referencing is one of the most important tasks of students while writing any assignments or papers. It needs a little practice to master the various citation techniques. But, before that can occur, many students can be found making certain mistakes in citation. Making mistakes in citation is deemed as plagiarism in the academic world and is a serious violation of academic standards and rules. Each and every one of these mistakes can be avoided and here are some of the most common mistakes that student make during citation.

Here are some of the mistakes that are commonly made by students and knowing how to correct them can save you from not just embarrassment but from slipping grades.

Using the author’s name: An author’s name should always be used in in-text referencing not just when you are mentioning a quote from the author, but also when you are paraphrasing the author’s statements or work.

Full stop or Period: Generally, we use period or full stop for when a sentence is complete. But, when using a citation, there’s a small rule to follow. If you are quoting an exact sentence from an author, then you need to put the period after the quote is complete and after the source has been given. If you are explain the sentence after the quote, then the comma must be put within the sentence before the explanation begins and should end with the source and period.

Example 1: “Dr. Weir claims that Mark has ingenious engineering and botanical skills” (Source 1).

Example 2: “Dr. Weir claims that Mark has ingenious engineering and botanical skills,” which proves that Mark could extend his survival time on Mars (Source 1).

Using et al: This can be quite confusing for students. The “et al” is a simple way of limiting space consumption in in-text referencing. For example, if a citation work has been authored by two authors, then the last names of the authors and the year needs to be given. If there are more than 2 authors, then, et al must be followed with the first author’s name.

Example 1: Research by Wegener and Petty (1994) would be cited as (Wegener & Petty, 1994)

Example 2: (Kernis, Cornell, Sun, Berry, & Harlow, 1993) would be cited as (Kernis et al., 1993)

Never start off with a quote: Sometimes, students have this habit of stating a quote in the very beginning of the paper. This is a big no-no. The first thing you need to do is to introduce the topic to the reader. Even if the topic is very much known to most people, yet you need to introduce the topic first and then go with the quote. And then, you need to explain the quote or the argument as well.

Do not add references that aren’t mentioned in-text: Don’t add references at the end of your work just like that. Unreferenced citations is as bad as not referencing at all. Do not just add references just for the sake of it. If your essay has less number of citations, then it is okay. But, just to increase the bulk of citations, don’t add citations that you’ve haven’t used in your work.

Running head: Running head is just as important as any other citation criteria. Running head is the title of your work and it should be visible on all the pages of your work. In MS Word, you can easily add running head by simply double clicking on the upper margin and add running head and the title of your work.

Page Number: Page numbers of your work is also very important. You can add page numbers in a Word document by simply double clicking on the top margin space. Here, just like running head, you can add page numbers without any hassles.

Digital Object Identifiers: Digital Object Identifiers are very important for referencing resources that are published online have a digital object identifier number and mentioning this number can help in locating the resource pretty accurately.

These are some of the most common mistakes that students commit while adding citations to their works. You can avoid these mistakes first by understanding all the rules and regulations of your university about referencing. Do keep the reference guide given handy all the time. You can also use online referencing tools. These online referencing tools have been designed specifically to help students, academic writers and other writers to accurately cite their references and citations.

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