Quotation and Citation

Since it was an Assessment topic a number of us seem to be interested in, our upcoming Metagogy session, on Thursday 16th October, will be on quotation and citation. Questions we might consider include:
– what strategies do students use to include sources within their essays at all levels?
– how do students reference material, and what does that tell us about their understanding of research as a key literature practice?
– what approaches are we using to help students improve their use of quotation and citation?
I’ll talk a little about Joe Bizup’s ‘Degrees of Quotation‘ handout as one answer to the last question, and it’d be great to hear what others have done or want to try.
Before we meet, if you can post 1-2 sentences in response to this prompt on the Metagogy blog – a question, observation, or tip you have about student quotation/citation – that’ll make for a rich discussion.
It’d be great if you have handouts and want to post them to the wiki’s Shared Reading (https://wiki.geneseo.edu/display/engl/Shared+reading) or Shared Links pages (https://wiki.geneseo.edu/display/engl/Shared+links).
Lastly, various folk have made great comments in response to the Assessment wiki, which you might like to glance at before we meet: https://wiki.geneseo.edu/x/G5KKBQ

4 Replies to “Quotation and Citation”

  1. Dear metagogues:

    I tend to refer my composition students to the Purdue OWL for MLA guidelines and instruction, assuming that as a generation of digital natives, they will be more comfortable using an online guide than one in print (not to mention that the OWL is free). However, I find my students don’t refer to the site without my reminders, and they don’t seem too comfortable with its interface.

    A couple related questions I’d love to hear folks’ thoughts on:

    Is there a better open source citation guide out there, or is OWL still the only game on the web?

    Do faculty that teach literature courses find the same resistance to OWL among their students? What citation resources seem to work in lit courses?


  2. This semester, I’ve set up a Zotero group for my Dickens class. I’ve asked the students to share resources as they encounter them. I’ve also shared a few resources there myself.

    I like the fact that Zotero will take the metadata that students feed it — or that Zotero itself can automatically import from many web pages, including search results for print books — and export a more or less properly formatted Works Cited list in your chosen professional format, including MLA.

    Proper citation is important, but our efforts to teach its importance are always in danger of going awry by putting the focus on proper citation format. Students understandably wonder why it’s important for them to master a protocol they’ll never use unless they become academics themselves.

    I’m hoping that using Zotero will enable me to put format in the background and focus instead on metadata. What it’s important for all students to understand, whether they plan to become academics or not, is that responsible citation requires you to tell your reader the who-where-when-and-how of a work’s publication, so that your reader can either judge the credibility of the work or look it up and consult it.

    All that citation format does is to represent this information in a way that the guild readily understands. Not only are most of our students never going to belong to the guild, but they are also going into a professional world where the real test of a protocol’s utility has become whether software can understand it. What software understands is metadata.

  3. As it happens, for a major authors course on Pynchon last semester I assigned Bizup’s article “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” I had shared his boredom with categorizing sources as primary or secondary, and to some extent Paul’s concern about correct bibliographic format overrunning the purposes of quotation + citation.

    I would underscore that Bizup is situating the citation of other people’s words & ideas within a context of rhetoric: what are the persuasive uses of (various types of) “sources”? I think we’ve all seen students sort of disappear amidst a series of quotations; rhetoric helps preserve that focus upon writer/reader connection in a way that seemed pretty helpful. I never took the next step of using class time for an exercise, but these documents look interesting…

  4. I tell students that secondary sources cited or quoted in their critical papers have to be integral to their argument (either by supporting or taking it further, or by using the sources to disagree with or modify or qualify their claims). They should not just parrot them or let the sources become an echo chamber. Also, be sure that it’s always clear in your essay/argument whether you are giving your own opinion/interpretation, or that of one of your sources. Re format(s): too often students will repeat the bibliographic info in Works Cited (MLA format) in the essay itself, and I keep telling them they don’t need to do so. The other major source of (mechanical) aggravation is when the student’s intro clause and the quoted material doesn’t add up to a grammatical sentence. Worse yet are dropped quotes (quotes without any intro clause). But no doubt I’m carrying coals to Newcastle. Gene

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