APA Citations–Sample Research Paper

hi this is David and we’re going to take a quick look at a sample essay that uses sources our goal is to examine the techniques used by the student author Jane Doe to integrate research into her expository essay done and ap end style let’s get started first note that in APA style all major sections have a subtitle on top of them in this five paragraph essay the main sections are single paragraphs so that’s where you will see the titles and subtitles the first paragraph is the introduction paragraph and you see the repetition of the main title from the title page on top of the intro paragraph this is standard APA style next comes the introduction paragraph itself which serves several functions it provides background context for the topic it generates reader interest but the primary goal of the introduction paragraph is to introduce the thesis which should come at or near the end of the paragraph let’s read Jane’s thesis and examine how she led up to it thesis the result is that prison overcrowding is a serious financial burden for Americans so this is the overall concept the controlling idea that the essay will illustrate cooperate and hopefully present a convincing case for let’s return to the beginning of the intro to see how she led up to this thesis she begins something needs to be done about prison overcrowding and the lack of rehabilitation programs let’s label this green for it’s Jane’s thought and opinion expressed in her own words next without proper rehabilitation prisoners become repeat offenders these are also Jane’s words however does this idea that the lack of rehabilitation causes repeat offenders need a citation no it does not anyone who has studied this issue and Jane has knows the terrible problem of repeat offenders because of the lack of rehabilitation in these human warehouses we’ve created Jane’s statement is probably an example of general knowledge which is something Jane in most adults in America probably knew before even beginning the paper the high rate of repeat offenders is a generally accepted and unfortunate fact we know next sentence this means we have to build new facilities just to keep up with the overcrowding again these are Jane’s words but this idea is pretty specific and probably not something Jane knew before she began researching the topic so does the sentence need a citation no and here’s why common knowledge common knowledge is something known by everyone or nearly everyone in a specific field or academic discipline it usually does not have to be cited because it’s not associated with a single author in other words before writing for paper Jane probably didn’t know that quote we have to build new facilities just to keep up with the overcrowding but once she began studying and reading about America’s prison system it became clear that this is common knowledge among the researchers and writers in this field let’s look at this example from history you’re writing a paper on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and you wish to use the following fact in your research essay Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth would you have to cite that no it’s an example of general knowledge something known by most everyone without having to do any research next Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater would you have to like that no although you may not have known the name of the theater before you began your research as you read about the assassination you saw that Ford’s Theatre is an example of common knowledge something that is known by virtually every historian in the field last Abraham Lincoln was shot by the actor John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater while watching the play our American cousin do any of those facts need citing no booth profession actor and the name of the play are common knowledge perhaps you didn’t know that before you began researching but as you read you saw these facts and virtually every source you consulted so let’s return to Jane’s statement this means we have to build new facilities just to keep up with the overcrowding is a general knowledge no Jane probably didn’t know it before she began researching is it common knowledge yes as Jane did her research she saw that this idea the expanding need for new prison facilities is a concept known and shared by experts in this field therefore no citation is needed now this sentence the current cost to our nation to incarcerate inmates is seventy five billion dollars per year which is expected to quadruple in the next decade Crawford 2010 this is clearly statistical information associated with a single source Crawford it’s not common knowledge and so must be cited notice that Jane chose not to quote from Crawford but to put the stats in her own sentence this is a good choice because quotations should be used only when the original wording is important for some reason finally it’s easy to see a strong justification for the use of this source of statistics Jain subject is the financial burden of the prison system so it was important for her to establish right away the numbers that support this notion of financial burden to summarize in her introduction Jane used a single source in an effective way summarized instead of quoted for an important reason to provide clarification of what she meant by financial burden and this in-text citation Crawford 2010 refers to the full reference citation on the references page at the end of the paper let’s turn now to Jane’s first body paragraph with the APA level 1 subheading rehabilitation note that in this paragraph Jane uses the classic formula for a body paragraph in an expository essay that formula is state the main point of the paragraph explain or elaborate on the main point support the main point then conclude the paragraph typically with your own words let’s read the paragraph stated main point first prison-overcrowding is a financial burden because prisoners are not getting enough rehabilitation to transition back to society so the point is stated in Jane’s own words colored green and becomes the point that the paragraph will have to develop and support to a convincing degree lack of rehabilitation in the explained elaborate sentence Jane writes the responsibilities of the Bureau of Prisons is to safely confine its prisoner population semicolon however comma another mission of the Bureau is to rehabilitate since there is no citation we assume that Jane found the twin role of the Bureau of Prisons confined and eight is common knowledge among those who study this issue in other words it is stated repeatedly in the sources she consulted but then Jane does something smart she chooses one of the experts who know about the dual role of the Bureau of Prisons to add the voice of authority to her paragraph she summarizes the opinion of an expert named pavis in her first support sentence we must provide inmates with skills that will aid them in their ability to readjust after being released pavis 2012 when we check on the reference page citation we see that Tavis was writing for an academic journal what you see at this point in Jane’s paragraph is another common use of research to support a point you have just stated in your own words doing so shows that what you assert is accepted by experts in this field and therefore your assertion is given credibility now let’s look at Jane’s next two sentences most inmates come to jail with little or no education at all once released these prisoners are right back where they started from again due to her research and thinking on the topic Jane has formed some specific opinions these opinions belong to her and are expressed in her own words but because this is an academic research essay Jane also knows that she must add the voices of published authorities to support her assertions in this case she chooses an article that Talbot published in 2008 let’s read this quotation and see if there is justification for using the author’s exact words to take up space and Janes paper Talbot states many will be drug abusers who receive no treatment for their addiction while on the inside sex offenders who got no counseling and illiterate high school dropouts who took no classes and acquired no job skills that was well written by Talbot and paints a bleak picture of people who are doomed to repeat offenses due to the lack of basic help one other thing to notice is how James set up the Talbot quote with her lead-in sentence once released these prisoners are right back where they started from and then she lets Talbot tell us exactly why that is true the lack of rehabilitation the subject of this paragraph is driven home Jaynes concluding sentence which should be in your own words unless there’s some compelling reason for it not to be she concludes the more prisoners that are rehabilitated the quicker they can start to contribute to society once they are released after the dark picture she has painted she provides the solution the same one she opened with at the top of the paragraph the need for more rehabilitation okay let’s quickly review what we’ve learned about the use of sources one common knowledge these are facts and concepts already known by those who regularly write and research in a given area you will be acquiring common knowledge as you research as long as you are sure you have seen this information and the majority of sources you consult it you do not need to cite it to your own opinions as a product of your reading and thinking about the topic you will synthesize the material to form your own opinions your own positions and beliefs these are also yours and don’t need to be cited however it is a very very good idea to add the voice of published experts to back up your opinion especially in the form of quotations 3 you can only do two things with a source summarize information from it in your own phrasing and sentences or quote from it directly before choosing which option to use be sure to have a good reason to do either one or the other four it’s always a good idea to introduce any quote you use with a signal phrase quotes shouldn’t seem like they just dropped out of the sky and landed in your paper you should introduce who is speaking and it should be clear how the quote relates to the sentence immediately before it follow those four strategies and you’ll be well on your way to using research effectively in your essays

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