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HIS 1200 American History: Don't Forget the References!

Guide to resources for the study of American life and culture.

The Value of References

Scholarship is a conversation meaning that scholars do not publish ideas in a vacuum but comment and build on the thoughts and work of other scholars in the field. When you cite the works of others, you are also participating in this conversation even in an unpublished manner. Because books and articles are often integrating the ideas of others, the references become an important part of resources to pay attention to and examine.

References can be found in multiple places. Usually in articles, they are placed at the end of the text. In books, they might be found at the end of each book chapter or at the very end of the entire book. References also might be found in foot notes at the bottom of each page along with additional notes.

Citation Pearl Growing (as shown in the infographic on the right) is using parts of a given text, which you have found to be relevant to your topic, to grow your resource list and find other sources that could be of use or interest. This includes reading references and seeing if there is an item the source cited that might also be of relevance.

You can often locate the reference if you search the author's last name and the title of the source in quotation marks in APPsearch or Google Scholar. Make sure you pay attention to whether the reference is for an article, book, or other type of source such as a conference proceeding or online publication.

Sometimes references might be incomplete or in an outdated format that is missing information. The following video gives an example of another approach you can try by finding a electronic journal article based on just the journal publication information and page numbers.

Citation Pearl Growing

Citation Pearl Growing Infographic