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Environmental Sciences

Reading Scholarly Papers

Learning how to read an academic or scholarly source is different than simply reading a book. There are strategies and techniques you can use to quickly extract information and gain an understanding of what the source is discussing.

Organizing Sources

As you locate information for your assignment, be sure to keep track of where the information came from. Remember, for every piece of outside information you use, you must cite it.

All direct quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing, statistics, and outside opinions count as outside information, and must be cited. If you have never developed a system for keeping track of your citations, the following video provides an easy to use but effective system.

Hi, everyone! This is Lara Hammock from the Marble Jar channel and in today's video, I'll tell you how I use Google Sheets to organize my citations and sources for papers and research projects.

I'm in my first year of graduate school and we do a lot of writing. References and citations are very important, as they are for any discipline. I supposed if I was writing a dissertation with a hundred citations, I would feel the need to pay for and learn a whole complicated citation software, but since I'm not, I prefer to use tools that I already use and know well. AND despite the fact I'm not writing a dissertation, I have written some papers that have had over 25 sources, so I do need SOME kind of system to organize and manage my citations.

I started out, as most people do, with kind of a hodge-podge system of just cutting and pasting URLs from the Internet and sticking them at the bottom of the Word document of the paper. Or, if I'm doing research, I'd just copy and paste URLs with maybe some quotes from the study or article. The problem was, if I had multiple quotes, I couldn't organize them by topic for fear of losing the reference link, or I'd have to duplicate the URL multiple times. Plus, scrolling down to check these references was annoying. I needed a better, less messy system.

Here's what I do now. For each research project or paper, I create a new Google Sheets spreadsheet for references. You could easily do this in any spreadsheet program. I name it something like Class name - Project name - Citations and Quotes. Let's use a research project that I just did for my Policy class as an example. My spreadsheet name is "Policy - Ex-Felon Voting Rights Citations and Quotes." Then -- I make 2 tabs. The first tab is called Quotes, the second is Sources. I'm going to put a sample of this Citation Spreadsheet up on my Google Drive to share with you. To use it, just follow the link that I will provide in the notes section, make a copy into your own Drive, and then use it or modify it as you see fit.

Sample Google Spreadsheet:

Back to the spreadsheet -- so, now as I'm doing my research and reading a bunch of different articles -- in this case, mostly news articles and opinion pieces -- I starting finding quotes or statistics that help me to understand the issue or that I might want to use in my paper. So, I copy the quote and paste it into this first column. Okay -- the second column is a reference number. I'm going to want to remember where I got this quote from -- so go to the article and copy the URL or website address. I note some basics about the source and what the article is about -- in this case it's an Editorial from The Washington Post Editorial Board. Now I go into the Sources tab paste the URL under website address, note some basics about the article -- more for my own recall ability than anything else, and I number it -- #1. Now, I'm going to have a bunch of other articles to put in here, so I might as well go ahead and fill in these numbers, 1 to 10. Okay, back to the Quotes tab, I'm going to indicate that this quote came from article #1. Now, I can paste several quotes from the same article, I just need to indicate where they came from. So, here is my completed spreadsheet for this research project. I have 13 sources and 38 quotes. I obviously did not use all of those in my paper, but they helped to shape my understanding of the topic and served as a repository for the quotes and statistics that I DID end up using.

Just a quick note -- because of the nature of this research project, most of my sources were articles about current events, but this system also works great for scholarly research since so much is accessible on the Internet these days through your academic institution's research portal. I also use this system to capture quotes from books. Check out my video on exporting quotes from Kindle books into a spreadsheet such as this.

There are two things that I find really helpful about this system:

1) Easy to categorize - Because each quote has its own line, you can tag each quote with a theme or category. For example, in this column, I'm going to put in the main reasoning that states use to disenfranchise ex-offenders. There are a handful: safety, punishment, violation of social contract, political ideology, race etc. Not every quote is going to get a tag, but I can tag all of the ones that apply and then I can sort by this column. That way, if this is how I've decided to structure my paper, in this case -- by state rationale, I have quotes that are all nicely grouped together and ready to use for each topic. The second thing, is that this system makes it

2) Easy to cite while drafting - So, I'm writing my paper and I want to use a good statistic. Here's one: "McAuliffe's order affected 200,000 people in a state where 3.9 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election." So, I go ahead and quote this in my paper. Now, I don't want to slow down my writing process do the whole citation now (for me, that is an entirely different thinking process), so when I'm drafting, I just put the reference number in parenthesis right behind the quote. Like this (4). Then, once I've drafted and edited the paper, I go back in looking for reference numbers and replace them with proper citations. This is easy to do since I have a nice centralized place where I've gathered all of the source website information.

This system has worked well for me. Let me know what you think! Comments are always appreciated and thanks for watching!

Now, how do you incorporate those sources into your writing? This wonderful video from ASU and Crash Course covers how you can use paraphrasing, quotations, and explanations without plagiarism.

Citing Your Sources

When using any outside materials in your papers or research assignments, you will need to cite your sources. This gives credit to the original authors of your sources, allows your reader to locate more information if they are interested, and allows you to avoid plagiarism.

Most citation styles will have an in-text citation which is a shortened citation in the body of your paper. Some styles may use footnotes for this instead. These in-text citations or footnotes will directly correspond to a full reference to the source you used at the end of the paper in a list. This list can be called a references list, a bibliography, or a works cited list, depending on the style.

Ask your professor which style you should use for your class. APA, MLA, and Chicago are the three mostly commonly used citation styles at Santa Fe College.

APA manual The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (call number BF76.7.P83 2020) is the official guide to APA style, which is most frequently used in education, social sciences, and health fields. The Library has multiple copies of this book, both available to check out and for in-library-use.

Chicago Manual of Style coverThe Chicago Manual of Style (call number Z253 .U69 2017) is the official guide to Chicago style, which is commonly used in history and humanities fields. The Library has multiple copies of this book, both available to check out and for in-library use. You may also access the Chicago Manual of Style online. Please note that Chicago has two different styles within it: Notes & Bibliography, which uses footnotes or endnotes, and Author-Date, which uses in-text citations. You may need to clarify with your instructor which of the two styles they intend you to use.

                            The MLA Handbook (call number LB2369 .M52 2021) is the official guide to MLA style, which is most frequently used in literature, humanities, and some history fields. The Library has multiple copies of this book, both available to check out and for in-library-use. You may also access the MLA Handbook Plus online, which contains the full text of the MLA Handbook, plus other resources.

CSE Cover The Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (call number T11 .S386 2014) is the official guide to CSE style, which is used in some dental science and natural science classes at Santa Fe College. The Library has one copy of this book available in the Ready Reference Collection at the second floor Reference Desk, for in-library-use.

Citation Clinics

The Library offers workshops for APA and MLA throughout the semester to help you learn the basics of citing. Upcoming workshops are listed here and will be available in-person in Y-240 and via Zoom.

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