Research 101: Citing Your Sources

It’s the final countdown for Semester 1 courses! Last week, we started posting skills, strategies, tips & tricks to incorporate into your research work habits as we wrap up coursework for Semester 1. In case you missed it, our first post talked about Encyclopedias and Online Databases; our second post covered how to navigate online databases and our third post outlined strategies for reading informational texts.

Today we are going to talk about citing our sources as part of the research process. This is absolutely an essential skill for every single academic discipline. In a nutshell - citing your sources means clearly identifying all the sources of your information.

At first, it can seem overwhelming - Bibliographies, MLA, APA, in-text citations, Works Cited pages, Reference Lists - it seems like an entirely different language and some ways, it kind of is. There are lots of specific rules to follow when citing your sources, especially as you move into senior grades and academic expectations become higher. It can seem difficult to know even where to start.

BUT DON’T WORRY. There are a few basic skills and habits you can start practising in all of your classes now, and then it won’t seem so daunting as you keep building up your citing skills throughout your time at LSS. Let’s start with some basic terminology that you need to know:

  1. Bibliography - is a list of all of the sources of information you used in your research process. This list will include information sources that you may or may not have directly incorporated into your final product (as a direct quote or a paraphrase). This list will include all information types - websites, books, academic journals, blogs, YouTube videos, images, charts, etc. If you looked at it during your research, it goes on this list.

  2. Works Cited / Reference List - This is the list of information sources that have been directly incorporated into your final product - typically in the form of a direct quote or a paraphrase. Works Cited is the term we use when we are following the rules of the Modern Language Association (MLA) style, while Reference List is the term we use when we are following the rules of the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

  3. Style - This means an established set of rules and formats for citing sources. Most commonly used at LSS are MLA and APA. Each different style requires you to provide specific information in a specific order and format.

It’s a good idea to always ask your teacher which “style” they prefer (APA or MLA). Typically, though, at LSS our Humanities (Socials/English) classes use MLA and our STEM classes (Math/Science) use APA.

In the next couple of days, we will look more closely at MLA and APA and the rules/formats for each style. For today, the first step I want you to take is: use a working bibliography to practice collecting all the information required to properly cite your sources.

Download as a PDF and print off to fill in by hand:

MLA Working Bibliography (PDF)

APA Working Bibliography (PDF)


Open the Google Doc version and make a copy in your Drive to type directly in a Doc.

MLA Working Bibliography (Google Doc - make a copy to edit)

APA Working Bibliography (Google Doc - make a copy to edit)

Heather Lyons (Teacher-Librarian @ Dover Bay) put together these awesome, fill-in-the-blank working bibliographies to help students practice collecting all the information they need and arranging it in the right order to meet the rules of either APA or MLA. This is an awesome first step to mastering citing your sources according to academic standards!

Another tip: don’t forget that the LSS library online encyclopedias and databases have those handy citation generators! The citation generators will provide all of the information you need to correctly fill out your working bibliography.

allison girardComment