COD Library Blog

Formatting or Fetishism? What do we want from source citing anyway?

“Has an element of fetishism perhaps crept into what was once a necessary academic practice?” This is the first sentence in the preface to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, published this past spring.

The new edition of the MLA Handbook acknowledges the confusion and futility associated with attempts to provide a definitive citation format for each and every source that could possibly be used in academic writing. In order to cite a book, one had to first identify what kind of book: Print book? Audiobook? E-book? E-book read on a Kindle? Downloaded as a PDF? Downloaded as a PDF and then printed and bound in collection?

Recognizing that no handbook can anticipate new formats and platforms for publishing information, the MLA has created a format-agnostic approach to documentation meant to replace the “forbidding level of detail” that had turned the Handbook into “a reference work… rather than a guide that taught the principles underlying documentation” (MLA Handbook, xi).

There are many stylistic changes between an MLA 7 citation and an MLA 8 citation, however, the role of the citation remains the same - “enabling readers to participate fully in the conversations between writers and their sources” (MLA Handbook, xii). With this in mind, we ask you to reflect for a moment on your own source citation requirements. When it comes to the rules that govern academic style, has as an element of fetishism crept into your own thinking about citations?

The introduction to the MLA Handbook recognizes the importance of rules in documenting sources, but suggests that our use of MLA be guided by three principles:

  1. Cite simple traits shared by most works.
  2. Remember that there is often more than one correct way to document a source.
  3. Make your documentation useful to readers.

As writing handbooks, citation management software, and Library databases make the transition from one version of MLA style to the next, we hope that COD instructors will keep these principles in mind when requiring students to cite their sources - whether MLA, APA, Chicago or another style. Depending on whether a student has access to MLA 7 or MLA 8, a citation may include a URL, or it may not. A citation may read “edited by” or “Ed.” A citation may indicate the day a source was last accessed, or it may not. Perhaps these differences shouldn’t matter much in the college classroom.

For, if we accept that the purpose of a citation is to be useful to readers, then we must accept that variations in citation formatting do not undermine that purpose.

So, how should we, as an academic community, help our students both comprehend the conventions of scholarly communication and manage the challenges of college writing and research?

The COD Librarians offer these suggestions:

  • Be explicit in both your style and source documentation expectations. Do you want students to include a URL for all online sources regardless of whether a DOI is available? Do you expect to see a “last accessed” date included in Web site citations? Tell your students this.
  • Consider grading your students on the utility of their citations rather than their exactitude. A number of studies have shown that an over-emphasis on proper citation may actually be hurting the quality of college writing. Students spend a disproportionate amount of time agonizing over the “correct” way to format a citation when compared to the actual time spent reading and understanding the same sources. We can help lessen student research anxiety by de-emphasizing our focus on “perfect” citations.
  • Address plagiarism concerns via alternative methods. Librarians and scholars believe that our fixation on citation rules stems from our fear of plagiarism. What strategies can you employ that might reduce intentional and unintentional plagiarism? Your liaison librarian can work with you to craft scaffolded assignments, authentic research experiences and other options.

COD Librarians are your partners in teaching and learning. Let us know how we can help you help your students succeed.

End Date for Old Print Cards

Still holding on to your old COD print cards?

Bring them in! As of Nov 1, we will no longer be refunding old print cards.

A couple of notes:

Know Your Library

Know Your Library VideoHave you been wondering what kinds of things people ask at the reference desk? Trying to figure out how to check out one of the group study rooms you've seen upstairs? Working on an assignment that will require graphic editing and not sure where to turn?

Get answers to all of these questions and more on our Library Introduction Video!

Have some lingering questions about the library and our resources? Come and talk with us either face to face in the library or via email or chat. We're excited to see you here as Fall 2016 begins.

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Make an Appointment with a Librarian

LaptopSleep_Consult.jpgDon't spend hours on what a librarian can help you with in minutes!
Starting this semester, COD students, faculty and staff may schedule one-on-one appointments with librarians for help with research and using the Library's resources - just look for the sign-up button throughout the Library website.

For more information, visit http://www.codlrc.org/appointment


image credit: Danny

Interim Hours & Closings, Aug. 5 - Aug. 21

ClockBetween the Summer and Fall semesters, the Library will be closed on weekends and have reduced hours during the week.

Here is a full listing of our hours and closings until the start of the Fall semester:

  • Friday, Aug. 5, Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7: Closed
  • Monday, Aug. 8 - Thursday, Aug. 11: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Friday, Aug. 12, Saturday, Aug. 13, and Sunday, Aug. 14: Closed
  • Monday, Aug. 15 - Friday, Aug. 19: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday, Aug. 21: Closed
  • Monday, Aug. 22: Normal hours resume

For more information, see the Library's Hours & Closings page.

Have a safe and restful break and get ready for the Fall!

NoodleBib/NoodleTools Unavailable July 14 - July 17

Noodle Tools logoNoodleTools developers are applying a new interface and launching a new support website for NoodleTools/NoodleBib this weekend. During this upgrade, NoodleTools will be offline. The outage will run from Thursday, July 15th, through Sunday evening, July 17th. Please plan accordingly if you use NoodleTools for citation formatting and management. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Questions? Call the Library Reference Desk at (630) 942-3364.

Changes to Services for District Residents

Services for district residentsAs an academic library, the COD Library's central mission is to provide information services to our college community of students, faculty, and staff. We also gladly offer allowable services and resources as a courtesy to the residents of District 502.
As of July 1, 2016, services provided to District Residents include:

  • Reference services in person, phone, via email, and chat.
  • Access to COD Library's book and video collections.
  • Due to the current licensing environment and standards, we are no longer able to provide remote access to electronic collections, including databases, e-books, and streaming media; but District residents may continue to access these resources on campus and at regional center locations.
  • The same restrictions prohibit the Library from requesting magazine, journal, and newspaper articles through Interlibrary loan for District residents, but residents may now receive up to 40 books per academic year through interlibrary loan.
  • Participation in the SOS workshop series.

As always, our reference staff is available to provide assistance with the use of Library resources. You can view our full District Residents policies here.

If you have questions, please contact Interim Associate Dean Jennifer McIntosh at: [email protected] .

Image by Haley Hughes

Wealth Engine update

Wealth Engine logo_fixed.pngWealth Engine access had been discontinued as of June 3rd. We apologize for the short notice. At this time, the Library does not have an alternative database for doing individual prospect research. However, Forefront (formerly Donors Forum) offers on-site access to both NOZA and Research Point in their library. For more information about what NOZA is, please see Forefront's tutorial at http://guides.myforefront.org/databasetutorials/NOZAandRP

Internet Explorer & Library Resources

IE.png If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web browser, please be notified that versions 8 and 9 of this browser are not supported by some of our main database providers because of security issues. We recommend that IE users switch to Firefox, Chrome, or Safari when using Library resources. Please contact Denise Cote, Electronic Resources Librarian, if you have questions: [email protected]

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