Instructional Librarian, Student Create Source-Citation Software
Students struggling to document their sources in research papers have found a sympathetic ear at Pennsylvania College of Technology, where software has been developed to take the guesswork out of properly writing a reference-page citation.
Marilyn G. Bodnar, content specialist and instructional-initiatives librarian at Penn College's new Madigan Library, and James R. Carpenter, a programmer and a computer information technology-internetworking application development major, created and copyrighted a step-by-step, fill-in-the-blank product that provides proper citation under the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, fifth edition.
The "APA 5th" is an in-depth and widely accepted stylebook that requires a student to put into a highly specific format the information about resources he or she uses in writing a paper.
The rules themselves are rigid, and Bodnar said the steep learning curve associated with creating a citation has resulted in the same questions repeatedly to the library's reference staff: "How do I cite this source?" "Did I put the right number of commas, periods, parentheses and capital letters in the right place?" "Where was I supposed to italicize this or that?"
"The Citation Creator" enables a student to enter the appropriate information from a book, magazine, journal or newspaper either in print or online format in order to ultimately produce an accurate citation. It allows for the use of editions, "Jr.," anonymous or no-author sources, signed chapters within an encyclopedia, etc.
The software targets the citation formats that are most used by undergraduates, its developers said. In no way does it address any issues associated with the body of the research paper itself.
"Though this is a fill-in-the blank resource, a student still must gather the information required to create the citation," Bodnar explained. "The student must also know the differences between a journal and a magazine article, whether it was retrieved from a database or print format, and so on."
Carpenter said, "The point of the project was not to remove the learning aspect of creating a citation, but to remove the laborious aspects associated with this process."
The Citation Creator is an easy aid for undergraduate students to use, Bodnar said, encouraging them to focus more on analyzing the information rather than trying to figure out how to accurately write the citation that ultimately will appear on the "References" page.