Documenting Sources

Documenting sources is the practice of giving credit for all statements, ideas, and quotes that you take from others. In the MLA documentation style, citations are given in the text itself rather than as footnotes or endnotes. The sources of your material may be indicated in two ways. You can include the author's name in your text itself, followed by parentheses enclosing the page number where you found the material (24). Or, if the author is not credited by name in your text itself, include the author's last name along with the page number in parentheses (Johnson 247). The reader may then go to your list of works cited to get the full bibliography of the source you have credited. See the samples below and the Sample Research Paper for the correct ways to document your sources.

Documentation is at the heart of research. First of all, it provides a "trail" for another researcher to follow to verify your facts or to find additional material on something you have mentioned. But most of all it is an issue of intellectual honesty. You did not do the initial investigation that the authors you are using did; and, in a sense, the little-known facts and expert opinions of others are their property.

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