May 20, 2009

How To Properly Cite A Source

You’re sweating bullets over the keyboard, pounding out those last few pages for a research paper. You’re on a deadline and you need to finish. You’re at your weakest, but stay strong- it can be tempting to fall into the trap of plagiarism!

Plagiarism is when you present someone else’s ideas or words as your own. This form of literary fraud is actually very easy to circumvent- all you need to do is give credit where credit is due. If you find a really good passage or snippet of information, don’t hesitate to take it! Just make sure to cite the author afterwards.

Citations allow the audience to find the source you use. This is very useful to anyone looking into the background of your arguments or topic. Additionally, citations help support your ideas by demonstrating how others would validate your claims.

There are many different forms a citation can take, and often, your teacher or professor will give you a set of guidelines to follow when formatting your sources. These are considered citation “styles”, and each comes with its own unique way of quotation (used in the body of a paper) and bibliography (which comes at the very end). These differ with the type of source you are citing (electronic, book by one author, encyclopedia, etc.). Check out for free downloads of a few popular citation styles.

By far the most common citation is the electronic source, or information you find on the Internet. Unfortunately, electronic sources can be some of the most challenging to correctly cite, as particulars about the who, what, and where of the information you access may not be immediately given. For these, you usually need to find out who the author is, the title of the article, version number, date of publication (or posting), website title, date that the material was accessed, and finally, the URL. Printed books will have most of this data printed on the first few pages, but websites tend to hide this kind of stuff in the margins and nooks and crannies of a page.

There are many types of plagiarism that are obvious, like copy/pasting a whole paragraph as if you wrote it. However, there are other, more subtle forms of plagiarism as well. Check out for a well-rounded list of possible ways to cheat at writing.

If you find yourself stretching for those last few paragraphs, remember: adding quotes and an author’s name will always fill more space than just a copy/paste.

May 4, 2009

Finding Motivation

It can be really hard to get up the motivation needed to complete some of our loftier ambitions. We often feel overwhelmed by the immensity of some tasks, and will give up before we even begin. This is common, and if you find yourself stuck in a rut, try a few of these tips.

Lacking the energy to get up and do something could come from a variety of sources. Perhaps your diet isn’t the best, or you aren’t as in shape as you could be. A quick fix for lack of energy could be a cup of coffee, some candy, or another type of snack. These are all good in the short term as they provide that momentary oomph to get you up and going. However, they will leave you wanting more after a few hours. For long-term energy, look for carbohydrates, like pasta or breads. These will keep you fueled for longer and more steadily, and won’t lead to the “crash” you might get from caffeine or sugar. Try to stay away from foods high in fat, as they will leave you feeling sleepy and unproductive.

While big rewards can come from big jobs, it’s easy to be discouraged when confronted with all the problems that come along with such big tasks. Take each step individually, and focus on one goal at a time. If, for example, you have four papers and a final exam to study for, plan out your time so that you can tackle each individually. You will be more productive and effective if you can concentrate on one as opposed to worrying about everything else.

For long-term goals, record your progress. Motivation is much easier to find if you don’t feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Track how much you have accomplished, where you run into problems, and solutions you find along the way.

Finally, think positively! Focus on the rewards of a job well done. Don’t get mired in the setbacks. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!