Activities & Organizations

Workshop outlines citing for academic writing

A high demand from professors and students caused the librarians at M.D. Anderson Memorial Library to add a citation workshop, “Cite It Right for Academic Writing,” to the Spring 2012 Discovery Workshop series.

Assistant Librarian Irene Ke instructed the workshop, which was held Friday in a basement classroom in the M.D. Anderson Library.

“Our goal is to give students the skills so they can further develop themselves,” Ke said.

“Whatever skills I have, I want to give that to students so they can carry on and be really successful in their careers.”

The class began by incorporating clickers and a slide show of hypothetical situations to determine what students were specifically struggling with. Ke then moved on to exploring the differences between APA, MLA and Chicago citation styles.

She emphasized the importance of being able to properly read all forms and distinguish between the different types of sources being cited by looking only at the citation itself.

“Scholarship is built on clarity and consistency so that we can all understand each other,” Ke said.

“You are only one scholar out of this entire field, so you need to communicate clearly.”

Ke then covered the differences between direct quotes, paraphrases and summaries. She stressed the importance of limiting the amount of direct quotes in academic work and the benefits of paraphrasing when done correctly.

To further illustrate her point, she used a soup and salad analogy, where the soup represented paraphrasing and the salad direct quoting.

With a soup, you take different flavors and add them to the soup, but it cooks and is more of your creation, said Ke. Whereas with a salad, anything you add in is exactly what it was — a carrot is a carrot and a tomato is a tomato.

There were exercises that required the students’ participation throughout these different topics. Environmental engineering student Aparna Balasubramani found the information valuable.

“I’m in grad school and there’s going to be a point where I start writing papers, so I need to know how to cite things properly,” Balasubramani said.

“Specifically, now I know what to cite and what not to cite.”

Psychology student Louis Berg also thought the class was beneficial.

“I wanted to have a better understanding of how to incorporate citations,” Berg said.

“There were some things she explained, such as the paraphrasing and summaries, that was very interesting and helpful.”

The Discovery Workshop series is a part of the Learning Through Discovery initiative that began in 2008 as the University was applying to be re-accredited, said Veronique Tran, director of the Quality Enhancement Plan for undergraduate research.

“We are trying to make research more accessible as well as show the practicality of it so that students will embrace it and understand it’s something they really need,” Tran said.

“We are trying to bridge that research and education mission together.”

There are three workshops left in the spring 2012 series. The next will be the “Developing Effective Power Point Presentations” workshop on April 10, an online webinar led by head of Information and Access Services Lee Hilyer. Students can register at

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