Attribution, Citation, & References

  • Understand the legal and ethical implications of misuse of the creative works of others
  • Attribution refers to the process of giving people credit for their ideas, words, and other creative media.
  • Citation refers to the information rhetors provide about the sources they are referencing (e.g., the author’s name and source/date of publication).
  • References refers to the list of cited sources.

Attribution refers to the process of giving authors credit for their ideas, words, and other creative media. People acknowledge their indebtedness to the ideas and creations of other people informally in daily conversations. In workplace and school contexts, people acknowledge the sources that inform their work in order

  1. to respect people’s original ideas, copyright and patents and perhaps indicate how scholarly conversations and contributions evolve over time. (See Authority is Constructed and Contextual).
  2. to adhere to copyright law and avoid plagiarism
  3. to follow professional standards of ethical behavior in the workplace
  4. to bolster their ethos
  5. to allow readers to access their source(s), which they might want to do in order
    1. to more fully assess the source’s credibility
    2. to identify the status of the conversation on the topic.

When rhetors attribute sources, they use citation. A citation refers to information about where a source is from and who authored the source. People cite sources

  • when they mention someone else’s ideas, words, and other creative media.
  • when they quote directly from someone’s writing or spoken texts
  • when they paraphrase a text
  • when they summarize a text.

There are multiple methods for providing citation. Different discourse communities, different Communities of Practitioners, have different stylesheets for citing sources. For instance

  • MLA:
    Modern Language Association) style is primarily used in the fields of English and foreign languages.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) style is often used in psychology and education. Education and social science professors commonly ask students to follow the APA (American Psychological Association) style for citing and documenting sources. APA differs from MLA in a number of ways, including the overall structure and format of the essay, but the major distinction between the two is APA’s use of the year of publication, rather than the page on which a particular quotation appears, for the in-text citation. APA requires in-text publication dates because of the particular importance of a study’s currency to research reports in the social sciences. Information in this section pertains to the guidelines established by the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • Chicago Style is used in many social science fields.
  • CSE (Council of Science Editors) is for the scientific community
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) for the engineering community..

In order to assess what sort of citation style they need to follow, writers need to assess their rhetorical situation and consider genre conventions.

Serious repercussions, both in and out of the classroom, may follow when writers fail to cite their sources.

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