GSS 1160W: Sex and Society

Why We Cite:

By this point in your academic career, you understand that not citing your sources appropriately is plagiarism. But why do we require you to learn complex and arcane rules about how your format your citations? 

  • Scholarly Discourse - While you may not realize it, every time that you write a paper, perform a piece, or compose a work, you are contributing to the discourse of the discipline of music. Within every discipline, there are rules that govern how we communicate. Proper citations are part of participating in scholarly writing about music.
  • Citations Facilitate Review - When an author supplies footnotes, it allows the reader to retrace the author's argument, down to the precise page number of the source cited. This is a key component of peer review, in which other experts check an author's work prior to publication.  A bibliography indicates which sources were consulted, and in some cases, the absence of a source leads to vigorous debate. 
  • Every Discipline Has a Preferred Citation Style - While the punctuation and formatting of citation styles may seem arbitrary, it does serve a purpose. For example, in the sciences, currency of a source is extremely important; thus, the date is the first element of the citation. In music and the humanities, date is of less importance, and is saved for the end of the citation. Mastering the citation style of your discipline is what makes you an expert rather than a novice learner.

Should I Use Citation Tools?

Many databases and other resources now have tools that will create the citation for you.  If you choose to use these tools, make sure you double check against the appropriate style/citation manual.  Sometimes, these tools will have little mistakes, which are easy to fix, but you need to know the mistake exists in the first place.

Check out the Purdue OWL website for some online examples of properly formatted citations for a variety of citation styles.