Thursday, March 11, 2010

Suspicious Citations

We feel like pioneers -- don't we? -- when we reach the end a paper. We stand from our computer chairs, kick over the stacks of books around us, and brazenly give the syllabus the bird. But what's that sound? It sounds like an electronic-type laughter! We spin around to see our computer mocking us with a cold, binary grin. The Works Cited page stares nakedly at us!

"I know!" we yell, our faces turning a sly-writer's grin. "I shall have the Inter-lines tend to my biddings!" And so our fingers rattle along the keyboard for a minute or two, we Google "citation machine," tap our temples in momentary thought, and then -- Ka-Bam! -- all finished!

"And my professor," we say, cradling the paper near our heart, "will never be the wiser! MUAHAHAHA!"

Instead: the paper returns, bruised with red ink and little professor-notes that translate: "WTF?" What has happened to our devious plan? Where did we go wrong? The answer:


The best way, I assert, to build a works cited or reference page is to start early. Don't wait until everything is done and we've kicked over the stacks of books. We need to -- from the moment we find the article or the website or book -- keep a word document that contains the necessary information. What is that? I'm glad you asked, but so-help-me-God if you interrupt me again.

Necessary, critical information includes:

1) The title of the piece and the name of the journal, magazine, or website (url) it came from.

2) The authors of the piece. Some pieces have no authors. Don't stress if this is the case.

3) The year of publication.

If we keep just these few things handy as soon as we find them, then gathering the rest of the necessary information will be no problem (a Google away!).

Now, we must begin the actual construction of the citations. For full disclosure’s sake, I will admit that I am a Third Degree Master of the APA Style, with +6 Charisma skill. So, for me, making the citations is rather easy and almost sexy. But for someone unfamiliar with a particular citation style (or any at all!), this can be a daunting task.

For those in this proverbial boat of frustration, I suggest -- first and foremost -- going to OWL, where APA answers, MLA answers, and all other answers lay.

However, if we're crunched for time or don't have a desire of learning all the nuances of citation (shame on us!), then we can tepidly use a Citation Machine.

BE WARNED: This is where we cross into dangerous territory! This is the point of no return. This is where begins SUSPICIOUS CITATIONS!

In an effort to better prepare citation hurry-ers, I prescreened several ciation-machine sites because I have seen the products of these citation-spitters; I have had fellows students look me in the face and insist their faulty citation was correct all because they got in online. (Needless to say, these students are no more... Oh, uh, no more under that impression.)

For the purpose of this excersize, I used several top Google results to produce citations for a book aptly named The Book (side note: this is one of the greatest baseball statistics books ever written; pick up a copy if you are mathematically or athletically inclined).

The first site I went to,, did no have The Book in their lists of ISBNs. Wow. Okay, onto the next.

Then I went to Landmark's Son of Citation Machine(tm). Again, this was one that merely required the ISBN and then could spit out my preferred citation style. "Wuh-ell," said I, pulling up my suspenders. "Don't mind iffado!" This was the result:
Tango, Tom, Lichtman, Mitchel, Dolphin, Andrew, & Palmer, Pete. (2007). The Book. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books.
SUSPICIOUS CITATIONS! First of all: APA Style prides itself in being gender neutral. That means no first names in text or in the citations! [Strike 1]

Also, Pete Palmer wrote the forward! In no way, shape, or form should Palmer receive credit for writing the book -- although it is indeed a good foreword. [Strike 2]

Palmer also appears in their in-text citation suggestion:
(Tango, Lichtman, Dolphin, & Palmer, 2007)
Strike 3. Struck out swinging.

Next I went to The Citation Center and KnightCite. These two machines require detailed entries (remember the information I suggested we write down before?). In my experience, this is: a) where most students mess up and b) more time consuming than writing the citation without the machine (I again refer you to OWL). If everything is input correctly -- and since I'm a citation master, this was no difficulty -- then we receive the correct citation:
Tango, T. M., Lichtman, M. G., & Dolphin, A. E. (2007). The Book. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books.

So what is the lesson we learn here? Simple:

1) Go to OWL and learn how to cite.

2) If all else fails, use a citation machine.

3) Don't use a simple ISBN machine.

4) Consider using both The Citation Center and KnightCite to be certain the citation is correct.

This was the first result when I Googled "Citation Kitten."

Bradley Woodrum also writes for Homebody and Woman and Cubs Stats.


  1. Very nice and informative article, by the way I am using, to make citations, a very good citation machine. I am sharing this through this great platform with others. And, to check Plagiarism I am using Both are very good websites.
    Best Regards,

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