Sources and Bibliographies

Academic disciplines often have strict rules about how to discuss and document sources.

Mastering these strict (and often arbitrary) rules is a way of demonstrating membership in an intellectual community. But the rules can often be frustrating: many seem trivial or arbitrary, and they change often (with each new edition of expensive handbooks).

Your work in this class should include seeking information and arguments from various sources; evaluating information and arguments; and communicating to an audience about your information-seeking.

Here is an example of an academic citation style based in footnotes. Source information and other comments are included at the bottom of the page where the source is cited:

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Outside of universities, speakers and writers must often make their own choices about how to explain evidence and sources.

Outside of universities, speakers and writers must often make their own choices about how to explain evidence and sources.

The most typical non-academic style involves endnotes, where sources are listed (and sometimes discussed) in a section at the end of the book, as in this example from San Francisco essayist Rebecca Solnit:

Wanderlust Sources.JPG
Upside down again.

Some academic researchers, when writing for a broader audience, will try to cite sources in a readable way, as Columbia University linguist John McWhorter does here:

Talking Black Sources.JPG
This is getting ridiculous.

A brief description of sources appears at the end of the book — the numbers (48, 58, and so on) indicated pages where the sources are used or cited.

Journalists often use this style too. Rather than listing their sources of information and ideas, they sometimes write out an explanation of the sources:

Bright Shining Lie Sources.png

 

In most university courses, your professor will have a strong choice about how you should provide information about your sources. In the wide world, though, there are many legitimate and  acknowledged ways to cite sources.

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