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Using & Crediting Sources: How Often We Cite Sources: Examples

Last updated 5/6/2020

 

Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Using and Crediting Sources” and the video title “How Often We Cite Sources: Examples.”

Audio: Guitar music

 

Visual:  The slide changes to show a new slide with the same main heading that reads "How often do we cite?" But a new heading is below that reading " Balanced Citing." Below this heading is the following: Cite each source of information you use in your writing, avoiding both undercitation and overcitation.

A text box with a sample paragraph reads: "Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each students’ skill (Thompson, 2009); differentiation in teaching helps students by allowing learning in different ways. However, differentiated instruction can be implemented in various ways, from administrative systemic changes to informal teacher adoption of the practice (Bondie et al., 2019). How and at what levels differentiated instruction is implemented can have an impact on its effect for students."

Arrows point out the balanced citations in the first and second sentence.

Audio: APA asks students to include a balance of citations in their writing, crediting authors by citing each source of information you use in your writing, avoiding both undercitation and overcitation. What this balanced citation can look like in practice can seem abstract at first, so we’ll review examples of balanced citations, undercitation, and overcitation.

First, let’s take a quick look at this example of balanced citation. Here, we can see that the writer is using information from two sources in the first two sentences, and then is including their own analysis in the last sentence. This is an appropriate level of citation because it is clear which information is from which source, so each source is properly given credit, while the writer’s own analysis at the end of the paragraph is appropriately left without a citation.

 

Visual: Slide rotates and changes to a blue and brown slide. "Undercitation."  Below that is a blue textbox which includes a sample paragraph that does not have enough citations.  The paragraph reads: "Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each students’ skill; differentiation in teaching helps students by allowing learning in different ways. However, differentiated instruction can be implemented in various ways, from administrative systemic changes to informal teacher adoption of the practice. How and at what levels differentiated instruction is implemented can have an impact on its effect for students (Bondie et al., 2019; Thompson, 2009)."

An arrow points out the citation of the two sources at the end of the paragraph, and a comment bubble asks the following questions: Are these the author’s opinions? If she is using sources, which sources? Is this information plagiarized?

Audio: Now let’s look at a sample paragraph of undercitation: "Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each students’ skill; differentiation in teaching helps students by allowing learning in different ways. However, differentiated instruction can be implemented in various ways, from administrative systemic changes to informal teacher adoption of the practice. How and at what levels differentiated instruction is implemented can have an impact on its effect for students (Bondie et al., 2019; Thompson, 2009)."

As a reader I have a few questions about where this information is from. Without enough citations it's not clear if the author is stating his or her opinions or if the author is using sources and not citing them, and if the author is using sources and not citing them, that's plagiarism. So, because it isn’t clear where the source information is coming from, this is an example of undercitation, which we want to avoid.

 

Visual:  The slide changes to show a new slide with the same heading of "How often do we cite?” but the heading below that now reads "Overcitation."  Below this heading is a textbox with a sample paragraph that has too much citation.  It reads: "Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each students’ skill (Thompson, 2009); Thompson (2009) noted differentiation in teaching helps students by allowing learning in different ways. However, differentiated instruction can be implemented in various ways (Bondie et al., 2019), from administrative systemic changes to informal teacher adoption of the practice (Bondie et al., 2019). How and at what levels differentiated instruction is implemented can have an impact on its effect for students. "

Arrows point out the citations repeated throughout the paragraph, and a comment bubble asks the following questions: Why are there so many citations? Why is a source cited twice in a sentence?

Audio:  Let’s now look at an example of overcitation. Notice how we’ve taken the previous paragraph and added too many citations: Each sentence has a citation, and one sentence has two citations. It can be overwhelming and distracting to the reader to see so many citations in one paragraph, so APA wants us to also avoid this example of overcitation.

 

Visual:  The slide changes to show a new slide with the same main heading that reads "How often do we cite?" But a new heading is below that reading " Balanced Citing." Below this heading is a text box with a sample paragraph in it that has the right amount of citation.  It reads: "Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each students’ skill (Thompson, 2009); differentiation in teaching helps students by allowing learning in different ways. However, differentiated instruction can be implemented in various ways, from administrative systemic changes to informal teacher adoption of the practice (Bondie et al., 2019). How and at what levels differentiated instruction is implemented can have an impact on its effect for students."

Arrows point out the balanced citations in the first and second sentence, and a comment bubble asks the following questions: I can see the author is using and citing sources, but I can also see the author’s critical thinking and analysis.

Audio: Now let’s return to our example of balanced citation. This paragraph clearly cites the information that was retrieved from the two sources, but it doesn’t cite so much that the citations are repetitive or distracting—there’s a balance to the citations. Additionally, because this last sentence is the author’s own analysis, it does not need a citation. This is the ideal balance that you will try to reach when citing in your own writing.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following: How often do we cite?

Balanced Citation when using one source throughout a paragraph

Key: Context cues through signal phrases

Researchers have conducted a number of studies on differentiated instruction. Smale-Jacobse et al. (2019) reviewed the literature and found that differentiated instruction can be viewed as a starting point for teachers addressing students’ diverse learning needs. However, the authors reported from their review that studies indicate that the field of education is mixed in how it operationalizes differentiated instruction, ranging from generalized training to individual coaching. Additionally, they noted that while these studies show a slight increase in student achievement due to differentiated instruction, they also indicate many gaps in the research around the effectiveness of differentiated instruction.

Audio: The last example we have also demonstrates balanced citation, but in a specialized case: When the author is using information from the same source in multiple sentences, in this case throughout the paragraph. This is an example of what APA calls a long paraphrase or what we can refer to as a summary. In this case, the writer is referring to one source throughout the paragraph, summarizing this source’s findings. When you are using information from the same source in multiple sentences, you’ll still need to cite the source, particularly in the first sentence, but APA gives writers the freedom to use cues, through signal phrases, to indicate that the rest of the paragraph is continuing to discuss the same source that’s cited in that first sentence. These signal phrases are important to ensure the reader understands that this information is still paraphrasing from the initial source cited; without these signal phrases, the reader would be left unsure. By citing in the first sentence and then incorporating these signal phrases, the writer has achieved balanced citation while still ensuring the reader knows where this information is coming from.  

 

Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide with slide a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address writingsupport@waldenu.edu appears on the screen.