Monday, September 22, 2014

Citation: The Basics

I have done some research into copyright and creative commons in order to find out more details about the topic in order to create some standards for what I want to see in my classroom.  The style in which my students do their citations is very important.  Typically throughout middle and high school students will cite their work in MLA format, occasionally APA.  Modern Language Association (MLA) format is very common because, as one of the newer formats, it contains ways to cite more modern types of works as the name suggests (“Writing,” n. d.).   American Psychological Asscociation (APA) is designed for use in the psychology field (“Citation Styles,” n.d).  However it is a common style for teachers to choose because it is a very general guide that works for many types of writing.  Unlike MLA and another common style, Chicago, it does not contain very good information for citing newer media forms (“Writing,” n.d.).  Some common styles for scientific writing include American Chemical Society and Vancouver style.  Vancouver style is typically used for biological sciences and also in the field of medicine.  It has many qualities that would definitely be useful in Chemistry, such as “features specific to citing medical research and the results of experiments in the field,” (“Writing,” n.d.).  I would definitely be fine with students using this style of citations, but my preferred style would be ACS because it “is intended to help [format] essays on the subject of chemistry,” (“Writing,” n.d.).  While this style is never used outside the field of Chemistry, I think it is my job as a chemistry teacher to expose them to all parts of the field.  Especially in classes like AP Chemistry where the students clearly have a passion for the topic and might one day go into the chemical industry, it is beneficial for them to be exposed to what they will be using in real life.  For more introductory chemistry classes I would only require the use of Vancouver style because it is a little simpler to use.
In my science class citing student’s sources will be a very important part of what they learn.  Typically when writing in a science class the students will utilize the Internet to research facts and other scientist’s research.  The use of citations is there to “give credit where credit is due” (Allen, 2000).  As high school students, the ideas they find on the Internet will clearly not be their own.  If their paper’s are posted to our class blog (or some other site) the citations need to be there so other people who read then can see who to credit for the research, and that credit for the compilation of the paper and all new ideas in the paper should be given to the student.  Science is a field which “moves forward only by building upon the work of others,” which is what my students will be doing with their background research and then application of the topic (Allen, 2000).
I will require citations every time my students use a direct quote, paraphrase, or summarize someone else’s ideas.  It is also important to note that someone at some point discovered almost everything in Chemistry, so it is not necessary to cite information considered “common knowledge,” such as atomic numbers and molecular mass (Sadorra et al. n.d.).  While everyone knows to cite direct quotations, I want to emphasize to my students that paraphrasing and summarizing is also equally important to cite.  Every idea that you found somewhere else and that isn’t from your own mind should be cited to acknowledge to person(s) you got the idea from (Allen, 2000).  In science it really doesn’t make sense to constantly quote research articles because the language is so dense and often contains unnecessary information.  Some form on summarizing or paraphrasing is always necessary and it will be fairly obvious when a student does not cite their work.  This is only the beginning of citation in science, but these are some of the major points that I feel will directly effect my future teaching.