Reference Citations Chart Worksheet for Research Essays
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Reference Citations Chart > ELA: English Language Arts > ELA: Expository Writing
Click here to print (.pdf file). This chart is designed to help students learn how to cite references within an expository writing essay or a research paper. It is an easy alternative to old-fashioned index cards. Scroll down for instructions.
The teacher explains the importance of citing sources, avoiding plagiarism, and details the particular format that she or he wants students to use (MLA, APA, etc.).
The teacher picks five or six topics and collects materials related to them (books, magazines, encyclopedias, online articles) or takes the students to the library.
The class is divided into groups of three or four and assigned one of the teacher-picked topics.
Students ask five questions of the topic; these questions will form the basis of a five-paragraph essay. These questions are written at the tops of the columns of the grid. [Alternative: For students who are unaccustomed to writing, the teacher may assign the questions. For example, the topics may be presidents, and the questions could pertain to birth and education, family life, career, accomplishments, and legacy.]
Students properly cite each source in the left column of the sheet.
Students peruse each source for answers to each question. In the corresponding square, students write the source's answer to the question and the page number on which this information was found (e.g., "p. 64, Lincoln worked as a lawyer"). Students should be told to put direct quotes in parentheses, but to strive to restate the information in their own words.
Within a short time, the squares on the sheet should begin to fill up. Some squares may have no content–a particular source may have information on Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War, for example, but nothing on his childhood. Students should be directed to have each question answered by at least two sources (for factual corroboration).
Once students have filled enough squares with information, they can begin to turn their notes into a referenced essay. In the Lincoln example, the first paragraph would be written around the question of his birth and education. With the facts laid out so clearly before them, students will have no trouble recalling where they culled the information they use in their essays.
Extension: Tables can be created very easily in word processor documents. Writers of any age can create tables for organizing their sources and sub-topics. In word processors, the tables will expand to accommodate a lot of quotes and facts. We have shared this strategy with everyone from high-schoolers to graduate students, and the general reaction has been, "Why didn't I think of that? It makes writing a referenced paper so easy!" Once students have mastered this strategy, they use it for the rest of their lives.
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