Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
Department Chair:
Greggor Mattson

Administrative Assistant:
David Divins

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8923
Fax: (440) 775-6698

Rice Hall 29
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Guide to Citations

Guide to Citations

Guide to Citation

Researchers draw on other scholarship about their topic for numerous reasons that include providing background information, use of theoretical frameworks, locating new data within the field of research, or offering new analysis of existing data. Crucial to the research process, then, is incorporating scholarship on your topic. Proper citations are important because this is how you give credit to authors whose research and/or ideas have influenced your work. Citations also enable readers to locate the sources you cite. Ethics and copyright laws require you to identify your sources.


"To take ideas, writings, etc. from another and pass them off as one's own."
Webster's New World Dictionary

"For some students, the decision to plagiarize is a deliberate act to deceive. However, many other students plagiarize quite innocently - without knowing that they are doing so. These students fall victim to their lack of education about what constitutes the writing and documenting of a paper. (For example, it may be that in paraphrasing another author's work, these students confuse what they assume to be their own writing with the author's writing)."

Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses another author's ideas or research without citation and presents them as if they are original. Obviously, unattributed direct quotation is plagiarism. Equally serious is the paraphrasing of another person's work without attribution. Plagiarism can occur (and students can be held accountable for it!) even when there was no INTENT to plagiarize. Increasing reliance on Internet research has compounded the problem for many students when they assume that proper citations are not necessary for electronic media (an erroneous assumption).

If you do not cite your sources properly, this could be construed as plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious infraction of Oberlin College's honor code and will result in a failing grade.


There are three main categories in which you must cite your sources. Whether you use the author-date or note system, the following rules apply.

1) Quotations

Anytime you quote any source you must cite the reference.


2) Other people's ideas, concepts, etc.

Whenever you make reference to other people's ideas, arguments, theories, etc. you must cite them. Frequently, scholars will paraphrase an idea or make an argument based on someone's study. Often, scholars will discuss something based on multiple studies. Whether the sentence or paragraph is based on one or five sources, you must cite all of the works. For instance:

Cold War rhetoric frequently used domestic language and images of women as bombshells (May 1988).

Popular culture during the Cold War such as science fiction movies and fashion were full of nuclear references and communist demons.1

1. Michael Rogin, Ronald Reagan the Movie and Other Episodes in Political Demonology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); Elaine May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1988); and Paul Boyer, By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon, 1985).


3) Facts not commonly known

Facts that most people know do not have to be cited. For instance, if you state that the Revolutionary War began in 1776 or that the Depression occurred after the stock market crash of 1929, you do not have to cite sources. However, if you use less-familiar facts, statistics or other information, then you need to cite these sources. There are two reasons for this. One, you cite so that other scholars can follow up on this information. Two, since this information is based on other scholars' research, these facts, like ideas, are someone else's. For instance:

Salaries decreased rapidly for women after World War II. In 1946, for example, they experienced a 26 percent drop in weekly pay (compared to a 4 percent drop in the national average), making them once again economically dependent on men.2

2. May, Homeward Bound, 76.


There are three methods scholars typically use to document texts.

1) Author-date (name-year)

This system uses references in the text with full citations in a reference list at the end of the paper. This method has long been used by the biological and physical scientists and is now more commonly in use in the social sciences and the humanities.

2) Footnotes

Footnotes are typically used in the humanities. Footnotes are located at the bottom of the page and include full citation the first time a source is noted.

3) Endnotes

Endnotes are like footnotes but placed all together at the end of the paper.


Given the interdisciplinary nature of the feminist studies, researchers often use different style formats depending on their training. Check with your instructor about which style to use. You should become familiar with the style manuals, which provide guidelines for citing books, articles, websites, etc. They often also provide information about punctuation, grammar, quotations, etc. Standard manuals are now available online and in print versions.

NOTE: Electronic sources must be cited along with print material. You must include the same basic information as with print sources (including author, title, publishing information) but also include format (online, CD-Rom, etc.), availability (URL or telnet address) and date that you viewed the site (as sites are typically updated). Just as with print materials, there are various acceptable formats for citing electronic materials. Most style manuals include information on citing electronic sources.

Some of the standard references include:

  • Achtert, Walter S. and Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999. (for undergraduates)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
  • Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • Winkler, Anthony C. Writing the Research Paper: A Handbook with both the MLA and APA documentation styles. 5th ed. Fort Worth: Hartcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

For online versions, see Oberlin College Library's website for reference sources.