W. W. Hölbling
General Comments on Writing Research Papers
Based on grading a good number of seminar papers & M. A. theses over the last years, the following is a list of suggestions of which some may apply to you while others may not. But a review is always good, so as this is a prelude to the work you must do on your upcoming seminar papers & M. A. theses, perhaps you find it helpful. The most frequent problems have to do with referencing. Once you decide on a style, stick to it. Too many papers use more than one style, creating the impression that people include material directly from the internet or elsewhere without modifying the reference. 1st Option: If you include the reference directly within your written text, open parenthesis, write in last name of the author/editor of the book, and either use a comma or a colon (it is even possible to use neither) and then the page number. Ex: (Brown:43) or (Brown, 43) or (Brown, p. 43) or (Brown 43). BE CONSISTENT! And use the Anglistik/Amerikanistik Style Sheet! The name and page number should refer directly to your Bibliography or Works Cited section at the end of the paper. It is therefore unnecessary and cumbersome to include more reference information within your text. This means, however, that your Bibliography must be very clear, last name of author/editor first, and all in alphabetical order. If you have included in your bibliography two or more works by the same author, use an abbreviated but clear reference to the actual text you are referring to in the citation, eg., (Brown, “Magic Realism,” p. 43) as opposed to (Brown, Rites of Passage, p. 46). Alternatively, you might use the date of publication (Brown, 1989:43) as opposed to (Brown, 1993:56).
Web references have presented a problem. We suggest to make an independent list of “Webliography”, including the entire webpage address and the date you consulted it. As webpages can be excessively long, you may also include an index so that you can cite specific pages more succinctly within the text to refer clearly to the entire reference at the end. But definitely consult this with your thesis director before you use such material in your next piece of work.
2nd Option: Footnotes/endnotes with entire reference included for the first reference to a work and specific page number.1 Subsequent references to the same author/work should just use the last name of the author, page number.2 When you are making reference to a primary source, say Dessa Rose, and will be quoting more often in your paper, in a footnote after its first mention, include the entire reference and then mention that other references will be included in the text.3 Then you only have to use the page number in parenthesis after each quotation. If you are using more than one primary source, you may distinguish between them with initials, eg., (DR, p. 47) or (B, p. 72) or (MD, p. 35) or (LBD, p. 103).
Thomas Brown, Rites of Passage (London: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 46. Brown, p. 73.
Shirley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose (New York: Berkley Books, 1987), p. 11. All subsequent references will be included in the text and will refer to this edition.
NOTE: Titles of book should always be cited in italics. (Beloved and Beloved do not refer to the same thing: book vs. character in the novel). Titles of short stories, articles and films should be cited in quotation marks: Beloved, Beloved, “Beloved” or Lesson Before Dying as opposed to “Lesson Before Dying.”
Bibliographical Entries: (Make sure that every referenced work included in your text is also listed in your Bibliography.)
Peterson, Nancy J., ed. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
Or if you are using the date as reference within your text:
Peterson, Nancy J., ed. (1997) Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Or for an...
Bibliography: London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
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