Q. I am taking IGCSE Global Perspectives and my teacher says I have to use "MLA" for referencing my research assignments. What does this mean?
Referencing is the ethical practice of citing your sources, to let your readers know where you found information or ideas, so they can distinguish it from your own thinking.
Creating a list of all the information sources used in a research project is the most basic form of referencing. Such an alphabetical list is called a bibliography or works cited page.
Note that simply having a link to a website is NOT sufficient as a reference. Yes, including links that work is important, but you should also attempt to describe the source with a title and/or author, as well as a date indicating when the source was published and the last time you accessed it.
For example, if this is an article you read about punk rock: http://archive.seattleweekly.com/2013-03-06/music/punk-rock-is-bullshit/, then you should describe it as a reference in MLA in this way:
In the body of your writing, you may also be expected to include citations, showing which source in your bibliography the specific information you're using in the sentence or paragraph came from.
For example, this line in your paper or presentation would direct readers to look in the "R" section of your bibliography for the author's name "Roderick", where they would find the actual link to the article.
Roderick argues that punk music taught his generation to rebel against everything that could be considered authority.
Another way to cite this source would be to put the author's name in parentheses at the end of the sentence, as an in-text citation, directing readers back to your bibliography.
One critic argues that punk music taught his generation to rebel against everything that could be considered authority (Roderick).
Two common forms of citations are:
- in-text citations (also known as parenthetical citations)
- footnotes or endnotes
MLA (short for the Modern Language Association) is the default formatting style for referencing at our school, up through Grade 10. (IB Diploma students may be told to use other styles, depending on the subject -- check here).
MLA requires inline citations, NOT footnotes. (Note that footnotes may be used in MLA if you are providing extra or explanatory information, not citations.)
For more general help with research, see http://research.uwcsea.edu.sg/researchhelp/citations -- and find out about different online bibliographic referencing tools that can help you track your sources and create appropriate citations and bibliographies.
For more information on MLA as a referencing style, click here.