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Citing Sources

Citing sources is an important part of essay writing. Today, the vast majority of our research is done online. Let’s start our journey as we learn the proper way of citing information from sources found in our virtual world.

Choosing Your Format

One of the first choices you need to make is what format you are using for documenting your sources. Two of the most common formats you will be asked to use are APA or MLA. Usually the format will be chosen by the instructor making the assignment. In our examples during this video, we are going to examine citing an online scholarly journal. In academic writing, this will be the most common type of citation you will be doing.

Citing Online Sources using APA Format

In order to cite an online scholarly journal in appropriate APA format, you’ll need the name of the author, the year published, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume number(issue number if available), page range, and one final piece. This final component is the Digital Object Identifier or DOI, ‘an alpha numeric string acting like a link.’ When a DOI is unavailable, you can use the URL of the article. DOI’s are preferred because they remain stagnant while traditional website links are subject to change quite frequently. Many publishers post DOI numbers on the first page of the online article.

Here is an example of a citation from an online scholarly journal. Let’s take a couple of minutes to go over each section.

Barcelona, R. (2009). Pressing the online learning advantage: Commitment, content, and community. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 57(3), 193-197.

  • The first thing we notice is the name of the author and year in which this online article was published.
  • Next you see the title of the article.
  • Following the title of the article we see the title of the publication followed by the volume number with the issue number in parenthesis.
  • After the issue number, we have the pages on which this particular article can be found.
  • Finally we have the DOI number. Remember, whenever possible use the DOI number when writing your citation. If the DOI number is unavailable, go ahead and use the full web address that links directly to the article, including the https://.

Citing Online Sources using MLA Format

MLA is slightly different from APA. Let’s revisit our citation from an online scholarly journal and see how it would look using MLA Format. To cite online journal sources using MLA 9th edition, you will need:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. ”Title of Article: Subtitle if Any.” Name of Journal, vol. Volume Number, no. Issue Number, Date of Publication, pp. First Page Number-Last Page Number. Name of Database, DOI number/URL/Permalink.

Here is what it will look like:

Barcelona, Robert J. ”Pressing the Online Learning Advantage: Commitment, Content, and Community.” The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, vol. 57, no. 3, Oct. 2009, pp. 193-97. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/07377360903262218.

  • Just like in APA formatting, the author’s name appears first.
  • Next, we see the title of the article, but unlike APA, it is in quotation marks.
  • It is followed by the title of the journal in italics, the volume and issue number (note how those are cited differently than APA), the date of publication, the page numbers of the article, the publisher/database in italics, and the DOI link.
  • If a DOI is available, cite the DOI number instead of the URL. If not, then the URL address should be included. While the access date is not required, it is highly recommended because page content can change and some articles don’t have copyright dates.

Lesson Summary

So, let’s wrap up citing online sources by recapping what we’ve learned. The first step you need to complete is deciding which format you are going to use to cite your sources. APA and MLA formatting are the most common and are the two we reviewed in this video. Whenever you are using an online source you need the author as well as the date the article was published. The next piece of information you are going to need is the title of the article. If you are using a periodical or online scholarly journal, you’ll also need the name of the publication and the volume and issue number if available. For either APA or MLA, the DOI number is best, but use the URL if that’s unavailable. Remember, for MLA citing, do not include the https:// in the URL. If using MLA format, it’s recommended to include the date on which you retrieved the information.

Happy citing!

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