Cite while you write

Cite while you write

by Sarah Geis

I’m sure many of you cite your papers the way I used to: do it all at the end!

While that may sound like no big deal and even a good idea, I eventually discovered that it’s a huge time waster and completely inefficient.

Unfortunately, when I had this wonderful realization, it was at the most inconvenient time.

You might not believe me (like the many friends that have rolled their eyes when I suggest they cite while they write), but there may come a day when you meet some unanticipated circumstances. During the second semester of my freshman year, I was finishing up my final draft of a 15-page paper that was due at midnight; I finished the paper right at 11:50 pm! It would only take me five minutes to put in my citations, right? WRONG! There ended up being complications that I didn’t anticipate. I had saved the source links for a lot of my information, but I was suddenly unable to find them. I hadn’t done a good job of organizing my sources. The time it took to type in the information I did have took me longer than five minutes. I ended up turning the paper in a half hour later and got downgraded — talk about a big bummer.

Since then, I’ve started citing as I write my papers. The best way to do this? Create your citations while doing research. Once you find sources that you want to use, create the citations, keep them in a Word doc, then copy and paste the reference when you need to cite something in your paper (NoodleTools is very useful for this).

You don’t need to wait! Don’t put it off! I promise you it’s much faster and more efficient. Everything is organized and ready to go. This way, whenever you’re working on a paper right up to the deadline (which I would try to avoid), you can just turn it in! You won’t have to worry about doing the citations at the end ever again. Start your citation process at the beginning of your writing and research process, and you’ll be much happier when writing your papers.

Sarah Geis is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Mass Communications. She enjoys photography, writing, reading, drawing, and video games. When she graduates from college, she would like to attend graduate school and either pursue law or earn a PhD. in Political Science.

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