Quiz: Citation and Referencing

This quiz tests your knowledge of the rules of referencing. Knowing these rules helps you avoid plagiarism. Good luck.

After you have read the question and chosen the answer you think is correct, a response will appear, telling you whether you were right or wrong and explaining why.

  1. You're doing a paper on death and dying and in the course of your research you have talked to a family friend whose child recently died. You want to include something she said to you, although it is not a quotation. Do you have to reference this, and if so, how would you do it?
    1. Put a parenthetical note (if in APA style, which is suitable for the social sciences) as follows: (J. Doe, personal communication, April 1, 2004), but do not put it into the reference list.
      Correct. Put a parenthetical note (if in APA style, which is suitable for the social sciences) as follows: (J. Doe, personal communication, April 1, 2004), but do not put it into the reference list.
    2. Since no one could check on this, and you are really putting it into your own words, it is not necessary to cite it at all.
      Wrong. You still need to indicate where you got your information in a citation. If you think about it, this validates whatever you are saying, giving it more authority than if you had simply made it up. The correct answer is a) because you are indicating from whom and when you received the information, but since this situation cannot be recreated or retrieved by your reader, there is no need to enter it into your reference list.
    3. It is sufficient to mention in your text that a friend had experienced this situation.
      Wrong. You still need to indicate where and when you got your information in proper citation format. If you think about it, this validates whatever you are saying, giving it more authority than if you had simply made it up. The correct answer is a) because you are indicating from whom and when you received the information, but since this situation cannot be recreated or retrieved by your reader, there is no need to enter it into your reference list.
  2. You like the examples or illustrations several authors have used to prove a point and you want to pull them all together and use them in your own paper in a list. What ought you to do?
    1. Examples used to prove a point are managed a little differently than opinions, ideas, or facts. These are treated the same way we would treat common knowledge, and not referenced.
      Wrong. Because you have used their examples as well as their ideas you will have to reference them too. You could choose some new examples that you think up yourself. Then you would only reference the idea, but not the example. The right thing to do if you use other authors' examples would be to reference them too, and if you are taking examples and an idea from several sources, you should include them all in a single citation, whether it be parenthetical (Fritz, 2002, p.3; Cheeky, 2004, p.23 [APA]), or as a footnote or endnote {1 Franz Fritz, Ideas (Guelph: Red Press, 2002) 3; Albert Cheeky, Philosophical Dilemmas (Fergus: Murison Publishing House, 2004) 23 [MLA]}.
    2. Include a citation after each separate example to indicate where you found them.
      Wrong. Citing each source separately would become too intrusive and make the text of your paper too difficult to read. So try to manage your ideas with clear boundaries so that it is obvious what you are referring to in the text and reference them all together as follows: parenthetical (Fritz, 2002, p.3; Cheeky, 2004, p.23 [APA]), or as a footnote or endnote {1 Franz Fritz, Ideas (Guelph: Red Press, 2002) 3; Albert Cheeky, Philosophical Dilemmas (Fergus: Murison Publishing House, 2004) 23 [MLA].
    3. Include them in one parenthetical citation or endnote after you have finished listing them.
      Correct. Because you have used their examples as well as their ideas you will have to reference them too. You could choose some new examples that you think up yourself. Then you would only reference the idea, but not the example. The right thing to do if you use other authors' examples would be to reference them too, and if you are taking examples and an idea from several sources, you should include them all in a single citation, whether it be parenthetical (Fritz, 2002, p.3; Cheeky, 2004, p.23 [APA]), or as a footnote or endnote {1 Franz Fritz, Ideas (Guelph: Red Press, 2002) 3; Albert Cheeky, Philosophical Dilemmas (Fergus: Murison Publishing House, 2004) 23 [MLA]}.
  3. You've found an article on the Web in a foreign language, and you've either translated some passages from it yourself or used an on-line language translator such as Babelfish to translate it into English. By the time you whip it into good academic English no one would be able to trace it. What do you do?
    1. It's the same as any other article and you have to cite it.
      Correct. In your text it is wise to put an editorial comment within square brackets as follows: "[my translation]".When you are making up your reference list you give the original title followed by the English translation in brackets in MLA style, but check for other style guides.
    2. No one would ever be able to find out where you found your ideas. Forget about citing it.
      Wrong. In the first place, if you have listed the foreign title in your reference list, professors will often wonder if you have plagiarized if they don't find any citations within your text. In the second place, you are still plagiarizing, no matter how hidden your crime might be. In your text it is wise to put an editorial comment within square brackets as follows: "[my translation]".When you are making up your reference list you give the original title followed by the English translation in brackets in MLA style, but check for other style guides.
  4. Last week your professor talked about her theory of the best method for electoral reform in a lecture. Since she knows all about it, do you need to reference this?
    1. Since you are writing the paper for your professor, it is understood that all that has been said in the lectures are part of the common knowledge of the course.
      Wrong. Whether the information you are quoting or referring to is written or spoken, it still belongs to your professor, and since, in this case, it does not appear to be common knowledge, you should be citing it. The correct citation will be a variant of this one, depending on the style you use:

      As Professor Singh commented in her "Canadian Government" course . . . [describe the theory]. If you are using footnote or endnote style, this would appear in your notes: 1 Mary Singh, "Canadian Government" POLSCI 2300 (University of Guelph), February 10, 2004. If you are using parenthetical style, you might use something like (lecture, Feb. 10, 2004). No reference would appear in the bibliography, works cited, or reference page because the information is not retrievable.

    2. You need to cite it in the body of your paper but not in the reference list.
      Correct. Whether the information you are quoting or referring to is written or spoken, it still belongs to your professor, and since, in this case, it does not appear to be common knowledge, you should be citing it. The correct citation will be a variant of this one, depending on the style you use: As Professor Li commented in her "Canadian Government" course . . . [describe the theory]. If you are using footnote or endnote style, this would appear in your notes: 1 Mary Li, "Canadian Government" POLSCI 2000 (University of Guelph), February 10, 2004. If you are using parenthetical style, you might use something like (lecture, Feb. 10, 2004). Neither would appear in the bibliography, works cited, or reference page because the information is not retrievable.
    3. You need to cite it in the body of your paper and in the reference list.
      Wrong. Answer b) is correct. You do need to cite it in the body of the paper because, whether the information you are quoting or referring to is written or spoken, it still belongs to your professor, and in this case, it does not appear to be common knowledge. On the other hand, it would not appear in the bibliography, works cited, or reference page because the information is not retrievable. The correct citation will be a variant of this one, depending on the style you use: As Professor Li commented in her "Canadian Government" course . . . [describe the theory]. If you are using footnote or endnote style, this would appear in your notes: 1 Mary Li, "Canadian Government" POLSCI 2000 (University of Guelph), February 10, 2004. If you are using parenthetical style, you might use something like (lecture, Feb. 10, 2004).
  5. You had a brilliant brainwave about the short story you are writing an essay about. But when reading an article about the short story, you see that the same idea is mentioned. It was your own idea too, so do you need to reference it?
    1. Yes. Great minds think alike, but even if you did think of the idea on your own you still need to reference the published source. Otherwise, readers will accuse you of plagiarism. You can use this source to support your argument, and you can try to show how your idea differs from the other author's, but you still have to cite the other source.
      Correct. You must cite this information even though you had the same idea. Try to emphasize any differences between your idea and your sources; that way you can emphasize your own originality. But since someone else has already written about your idea, you would be accused on plagiarism if you didn't cite it.
    2. No. If you come up with an idea on your own, you don't have to cite the other source.
      Wrong. You must cite this information even though you had the same idea. Try to emphasize any differences between your idea and your sources; that way you can emphasize your own originality. But since someone else has already written about your idea, you would be accused of plagiarism if you didn't cite it.
  6. What do you think is wrong, if anything, in the following passage from a student paper?

    In 1904 Matisse came under the influence of Signac's use of separated colours in his paintings. This was called "divisionism." As Spurling says: "Divisionism provided logical grounds for separating the ultimate goal of painting - order, harmony, emotional stability achieved through rhythmic compositions of form and colour from its traditional dependence on the subject. This was an important idea for Matisse.

    1. I don't see anything wrong. The student used appropriate citation.
      Wrong. Wrong. There are no concluding quotation marks, and without them, the way the student has included the citation details gives no clue as to where the quotation or ideas from the author end. It should have been:

      In 1904 Matisse came under the influence of Signac's use of separated colours in his paintings. This was called "divisionism." As Spurling says: "Divisionism provided logical grounds for separating the ultimate goal of painting - order, harmony, emotional stability achieved through rhythmic compositions of form and colour from its traditional dependence on the subject" (285). This was an important idea for Matisse.

    2. Although we can see where the student began to use information from another source, we have no idea when the student's own thinking begins again.
      Correct. It should have been:

      In 1904 Matisse came under the influence of Signac's use of separated colours in his paintings. This was called "divisionism." As Spurling says: "Divisionism provided logical grounds for separating the ultimate goal of painting - order, harmony, emotional stability achieved through rhythmic compositions of form and colour from its traditional dependence on the subject" (285). This was an important idea for Matisse.

  7. The benefits of using citation and the appropriate style are:
    1. You are providing hard evidence or expert witnesses to support your argument.
      Wrong, (but partially correct). For the purposes of this question, d) or all of the answers together are correct.
    2. You let your reader know that you are working within the academic tradition.
      Wrong, (but partially correct). For the purposes of this question, d) or all of the answers together are correct.
    3. You avoid charges of plagiarism.
      Wrong, (but partially correct). For the purposes of this question, d) or all of the answers together are correct.
    4. All of the above.
      Correct.
  8. Do you think that the following passage from a student paper is suspicious? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Landscapes are made up of things that work together to make them look good or bad. We have to think about them to understand landscapes. Depending on how we see these objects - our distance from them, for example, we can treat them as one of four basic elements - a point, a line, a plane or a volume. These relate to the dimensions found in Euclidean geometry. As such they can be regarded as simplifications of the real world, which tends to display a rather more complex type of geometry called 'fractal' geometry. An example is when we see things in the distance we think of them as points, especially when there is nothing else in the landscape.

    1. It looks logical, so it must be fine. In any case, how would we know if the student had plagiarized part of it?
      Wrong. The student has plagiarized because s/he has not indicated that a portion of the paper is a direct quote from a book. What makes the reader suspicious is the difference in style between the student's rather clumsy writing ("make them look good or bad,") and the academic tone of the book ("These relate to the dimensions found in Euclidean geometry") . The quotation should have been introduced and concluded with quotation marks, a citation should have been given and the quotation should have been introduced with a marker to announce to readers that they are about to read someone else's words or ideas. So we should see something like this:

      "Landscapes are made up of things that work together to make them look good or bad. We have to think about them to understand landscapes. As Simon Bell notes, "[d]epending on how we see these objects - our distance from them, for example, we can treat them as one of four basic elements - a point, a line, a plane or a volume . . . . relate to the dimensions found in Euclidean geometry. As such they can be regarded as simplifications of the real world, which tends to display a rather more complex type of geometry called 'fractal' geometry (2004, 19) An example is when we see things in the distance like a church steeple we think of them as points, especially when there is nothing else in the landscape.

    2. The writing style varies enough from sentence to sentence to make me suspect that the student has plagiarized some of the words.
      Correct. The student has plagiarized because s/he has not indicated that a portion of the paper is a direct quote from a book. The quotation should have been introduced and concluded with quotation marks, a citation should have been given and the quotation should have been introduced with a marker to announce to readers that they are about to read someone else's words or ideas. So we should see something like this:

      "Landscapes are made up of things that work together to make them look good or bad. We have to think about them to understand landscapes. As Simon Bell notes, "[d]epending on how we see these objects - our distance from them, for example, we can treat them as one of four basic elements - a point, a line, a plane or a volume . . . . relate to the dimensions found in Euclidean geometry. As such they can be regarded as simplifications of the real world, which tends to display a rather more complex type of geometry called 'fractal' geometry (2004, 19) An example is when we see things in the distance like a church steeple we think of them as points, especially when there is nothing else in the landscape."

  9. Is the following example from a student paper a good illustration of how to use a quote?

    Gergely Nagy, in his article "Saving the Myths: The Re-creation of Mythology in Plato and Tolkien" talks about light and vision imagery as being a common thread in both authors' works, and suggests that they lead to "opportunity" (93) for many uses.

    1. It is not a good illustration because the student's choice of text for quotation is not an appropriate one.
      Correct. The rule is that one should only quote when the text quoted is important, a seminal quote by a learned authority in the field, when it could not be said more concisely, or when it could not be said in a more effective way. The word "opportunity" is not an important word in the sense that it provides unique information; another word with the same sense can easily replace it, and it is not particularly effective for our student's purposes.
    2. It is fine, since it is correctly cited.
      Wrong. Although it is correctly cited, the rule is that one should only quote when the text quoted is important, a seminal quote by a learned authority in the field, when it could not be said more concisely, or when it could not be said in a more effective way. The word "opportunity" is not an important word in the sense that it provides unique information; another word with the same sense can easily replace it, and it is not particularly effective for our student's purposes.
  10. Which referencing style is more appropriate for a difficult argument in a Philosophy paper?
    1. A parenthetical citation style?
      Wrong. In an arts paper where it requires considerable concentration to follow a complicated argument, it is advisable to use a footnote/endnote referencing system. If you use a parenthetical style in this situation, your attention would deviate from the argument whenever the logic of the argument was interrupted by the parenthetical citation.
    2. A footnoting or endnoting style with superscripts?
      Correct. In an arts paper where it requires considerable concentration to follow a complicated argument, it is advisable to use a footnote/endnote referencing system. If you use a parenthetical style in this situation, your attention would deviate from the argument whenever the logic of the argument was interrupted by the parenthetical citation.

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