Main Body

6 Engaging with the Scholarly Conversation

Evaluating the sources of our ideas carefully no matter where they come from is an important part of the academic undertaking in general, and a fundamental feature of participating in the scholarly conversation. As a rule, any ideas you quote, paraphrase, or summarize need to be cited.

It is better to cite too much instead of not enough in order to avoid the risk of plagiarism. But in written communication the quote is the most compelling source of evidence and should be used judiciously to retain its potency. The source of the quotation is equally important and can be acknowledged in-text as follows: “The June 1984 issue of Critical Inquiry opens [accordingly].”

When preparing written works for your college classes, you should be able to isolate one or more sentences or fragments of a sentence for the sake of quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing the work of others in the context of making your own interpretation or argument. Doing so requires citing your sources, so let’s take a look at some of the mechanics of creating citations for published works.


Learning Objectives

  • Recognize that in doing research you are entering into an ongoing scholarly conversation and not a finished conversation.
  • Know when and how to cite the work of others in creating your own works.
  • Know how to create citations using OneSearch.


Creating Citations

You can create citations pretty easily within OneSearch, which offers suggested citations in several of the most popular citation styles, including APA, Chicago, Harvard, and MLA.

Just click on the link to Citations in any record (swipe below to preview some of the functionality):

Now you try. If we return to the oldest journal article in OneSearch by Julie Rivkin, “Virginia Woolf” (link to article record) published in the journal Contemporary Literature, let’s take a closer look at the citations it offers.

  • Open the record linked above and click on “Citation.”
  • Select each of the five citation styles — MLA 7th, APA 6th, Chicago/Turabian, MLA 8th, and Harvard — and notice how the format of the citations changes based on each of the selected styles.
  • For example, MLA 7th indicates the format at the end of the citation is Web, while APA 6th includes a DOI (digital object identifier) at the end of the citation, i.e.


Editing Citations

Citation generators are great because they make creating citations really easy and they can save a lot of time. But they often include various typos or pieces of faulty information, so YOU need to be careful to always edit your citations in your own work. Just because you used a citation generator doesn’t make your citations right; it’s up to you now to make them right.

The rightness of a citation is determined by its conforming to the rules spelled out in whatever style guide you’re using. All of the major style guides are available in the library—just ask! And the truth is, we can often get away with using the abbreviated style guides listed on the Purdue OWL website, which offers really helpful summaries of the major citation styles.

Some of the main things to look out for when editing your own automatically generated citations include:

  • Getting rid of names or titles in ALL-CAPS
  • Filling in missing page numbers
  • Removing redundant publisher or place names and other punctuation
  • Making sure authors and editors are properly placed within the citation

This is an exercise that requires practice to do it well. Please know that librarians are available to help you.


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Library Research: The Basics Connecticut College by Research Support, Information Services, Connecticut College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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