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ITL-bibliographic-issues-spotlightStudents are often faced with the challenge of writing research papers in which they need to reference multiple sources and provide a properly formatted works cited list (bibliography) at the end, all while avoiding plagiarism. To address this need the Biology Department developed a module for the required sophomore seminar course that teaches students how to handle in-text citations, works cited lists and the use of bibliographic databases.

To encourage students to learn how to integrate information from different sources without plagiarizing, students are provided with several different short “articles” about the Biology Department and asked to create a paragraph that combines information from at least three of the sources.  The students are asked to use appropriate in-text citations.  Then, the students must complete a series of works cited lists for their paragraph that follow three different formats so they will learn about the differences in style and will recognize the different components of a citation.

Finally, the students are taught how to use Zotero, a free bibliographic database that is capable of generating in-text citations and works cited lists, automatically formatted to the specifications of common journals.  They must search for a citation, import it into a shared database and use the program to generate sample citations.  These skills should serve them well both in future classes and in their careers as scientists.

Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs