But I think this phdcomics cartoon captures it better.
Q: Do all my sources need to be scholarly/academic?
Q: A lot of the material I want to use is in the 'grey' literature area (eg brochures, internal reports, unpublished documents etc) - can I use these? A: Yes, in fact given that much of our work is about practice, you may have to. BUT you need to ensure the majority of sources you use are of a scholarly nature.
Q: How do I know if a source is scholarly?
Q: I keep hearing about "scholarly" or "academic" sources - how do I know if the source I'm using is considered scholarly? A: If you are unsure, talk to a librarian - they will be able to help you. Academic sources are those books and journals that have been published by reputable publishers. This ensures the information goes through a blind peer review process. What this means in practice is that to have an academic paper, chapter or book published, it is sent to two anonymous experts in the discipline (they could be anywhere in the world) who see a de-identified copy of the work (you don't know who they are and they don't know who you are). They read it and make comments on it and judge its worth and suitability. Authors may have their work accepted with minor changes, may be required to substantially redevelop and resubmit their work, or may have it rejected outright. The process is very long (it can take several years to have a single article published) and extremely tough and rigorous. In this way materials deemed of an appropriate standard and quality and with methodological rigor are accepted. Obviously, this process is quite different to simply throwing a Blog up on the web or writing a commentary piece or opinion paper. Such items may contain interesting ideas and may even echo your own thoughts, but they have not been judged as rigorous and of a high standard by academic peers and so need to be used sparingly - if at all. (That's not to say they don't have worth - just less value in this particular context for this particular task).
It is helpful to remember that Style Guides (like APA) are more than just referencing tools. They help you format all aspects of an essay - from the initial heading through to the final fullstop. This is a link to their blog where people talk about all sorts of tricky style (inc. referencing) issues. Use their search tool to find in helpful answers to any questions you may have.
Q: Can I use a different referencing style?
Q: There's a referencing style I'm much more familiar with/think makes more sense/is aesthetically more pleasing - can I just use that instead? A: No. Please use APA referencing style.
Q: Why can't the uni just agree on one referencing style? It seems that every course has a different style - are you trying to make my life harder? A: Why don't we all drive on the right hand side of the road? Why doesn't every country use the metric system? Different disciplines tend to prefer different style families (social sciences tend to use in-text styles rather than footnoting). Each academic journal and publishing house employs different publishing conventions. If you write for a journal, or for government, you will need to change your referencing style. We are simply teaching you discipline and good academic practice. There are over 100 referencing styles available. We could make your life much harder if we wanted to!
Q: Please? A: "Don't make me angry, Gaius. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." (Source: Number 6 to Dr Baltar, Battlestar Galactica, Episode 6, 'Litmus')
Q: How do I reference something you've mentioned in a workshop?
A: If the workshop material is clearly from another source - for example I have stopped mid-workshop and suddenly quoted Freire or am explaining a theory - do some research and go to the original material wherever possible. (If you are unsure put a question on the class discussion board.) For all other items, I find this link helpful: http://guides.lib.monash.edu/citing-referencing/apa-university-course-materials
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