We can pick up a style guide like those published by the MLA, APA or Chicago and expect that it will tell us exactly how to format our text, as well as how to formally credit the sources we are referring to.
These formats have become so ubiquitous in academic communication, particularly in the classroom, that they seem like divine Law set in stone, rules that we must follow or face the consequences.
How, then, do we handle digital media projects, where standards are not so clearly set, and where standard style guides do not seem to be clearly adaptable to visual or aural media?
This set-in-stone quality to citation style in print, writing researchers have found, may have some unintended consequences for students.
An ongoing research project led by Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jameson, called the Citation Project, has collected essays from nearly 180 students from 16 institutions, and studied their habits of citation.
What the researchers have found in the first stage of their project is that students are generally disengaged with the sources that they cite, and that more often than not, students are engaged in “quotation mining” in order to superficially meet assignment requirements.
Instead of trying to impose a print standard format for citation on a medium for which it might not be appropriate, it is better to work from these wider principles and practices that underlie citation to develop formats that are:
Appropriate to the media in which students are composingAppropriate to the contexts and audiences of the assignmentsAppropriate to the forms of inquiry in which students are engaging
➤ The Role of Citation in Academic Inquiry
↨ Displaying knowledge of the topic…
↨ Establishing ownership of ideas…
↨ Positioning own ideas in relation to others’…
↨ Establishing a replicable methodology:..
➤ Adapting Citation Forms to New Media…
➤ Considerations for Developing Appropriate Citation Guidelines in New Media Assignments…
↨ Consider the affordances and constraints of the media in which your students are composin
↨ Consider the audience and genre of the assignment.
↨ Create communities of practice within your class.
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