Monday, March 31, 2014

MLA Help: Citing an Article Found in a Database

Hi, all,

I've noticed that lots of students come in asking for help with MLA citation and that they usually need help citing articles found in a database. It's important to note that there is a difference between the way you format a citation for an article in a periodical in print or on the web. Here are two helpful resources you can use to figure out what information to include and how to arrange that information in the entry:

1. The Everyday Writer online supplement has copies of the source maps available in the book on pages 394-395. In my opinion, the 4 source maps available in the MLA section are some of the best and most helpful material in the whole book. Here is the link to the source map for citing an article found in a database.

2. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a page explaining how to cite electronic sources. You'll want to read the top of the page down through the end of the section on "Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (including Online Databases)" and then check out the entry below called "An Article from an Online Database (or Other Electronic Subscription Service)" at this link.

Happy writing,

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Go with Your Gut

Free writing is beautiful. Brainstorming is beautiful. Collecting your thoughts and reflecting on them is one of a kind. 

Many writers think that they can just write without critically thinking. However, I have had many great teachers tell me otherwise. That is why I love free writing. Free writing is when you sit down for about ten minutes and write continuously without concentrating on proper grammar or even the topic itself. I have had to make lists and tiny paragraphs on post-it notes in the past when ideas about a topic or assignment came out of the blue. Physically writing down your thoughts or typing them makes a huge impact compared to keeping it only in your head. Free writing or any prewriting activities help collect your thoughts and, in my case, ease my anxiety before starting a paper. I go with my gut feelings when I free write and I find that it makes the whole writing process less painful in the long run.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Getting Started

For many students, staring at a blank screen can be so intimidating, and oftentimes, downright overwhelming. When feeling this way, it is helpful to remember a couple of things: first, it is always beneficial to break down an overwhelming task into a series of smaller steps, and second, each person must figure out how to order those steps in a way that is most effective for him or her. I remember thinking there was a specific formula I had to follow in order to produce formal, academic writing. This simply is not the case. Just like all other forms of creativity, the steps of the writing process can, and should be, rearranged into an individualized approach.

Developing a process of articulating one’s thoughts and ideas allows writing to be seen as a series of smaller, more manageable steps. When working with students, I have quickly realized that many of them are simply uncomfortable with rearranging the elements that comprise the writing process in order to develop their own method—and I can certainly relate. Prior to my experience as a tutor, I had not spent much time contemplating exactly how my own method of writing was structured (and I honestly thought I was doing it wrong), but I have found that knowing and recognizing the tools and method I use is very beneficial. Instead of being frustrated when the words don’t roll freely off of my fingers, I am able to step back, and evaluate the next step I should take in order to continue moving forward. Viewing writing as a series of steps, rather than a single task makes it seem more manageable, and I have found that other students find this way of thinking to be helpful as well. I have been able to use my understanding of my own writing process to help other students recognize that they, too, have a way of writing, and thus, can simplify the task that can sometimes seem overwhelming.

Here are a couple of links to help you get started:


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Everyday Thoughts from the Writing Center: Challenging Myself

Working in the Writing Center was all at once a wonderful and terrifying experience. I was excited to have the opportunity to help and afraid that I wasn't going to be able to do so adequately. However, soon after being my job, I discovered I knew a lot more than I really thought I did. I also discovered that I had a lot to learn.

This past semester at the Writing Center I learned quite a few things. However, one of the most important pieces of information that I learned was how to correctly format a paper in the APA writing style. APA was something I had never learned very well, just briefly, because it is not commonly used in my English and Humanities classes. So, when I was asked by a student for help on it at the beginning of the semester, I had to learn rather quickly. I was worried that I would not be able to help the student to the best of my ability, but I assured him that I would try and that we would learn together. It was not difficult for us to find helpful information on this writing style because both the Purdue Owl website and The Everyday Writer have good resources regarding it.

Also, learning APA became helpful for me whenever I had to use it in my Intro to Psychology class later on that semester. While it was difficult at the beginning, and I will admit that it is not the writing style I am best at, learning it became helpful because I would have struggled so much more in Intro to Psychology if this student had not requested help on it. Not only is it helpful in the classroom setting but also at work. Now when people ask these questions, I am ready and able to help them in such a way that I was not before.

The moral here is we all know a lot more than we think we do, but we also all have a lot to learn. Don't doubt yourself. Be open to learning new things. Have a great spring break!