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Information Literacy

Why read citations?

When using scholarly sources, we often focus on writing citations, but reading citations in the sources we've already found (or been assigned) can be very helpful! Why bother reading citations?

  • Find sources that are related to the ones you've already found.
  • Understand what people are saying about this topic and how those people are connected.
  • Familiarize yourself with citation standards to feel more comfortable writing your own citations.

Following in-text citations

I'm writing a persuasive paper to convince my professor to adopt free or low-cost course materials. These are sometimes referred to as Open Educational Resources, or OER. While reading the article, "As Good or Better than Commercial Textbooks: Students’ Perceptions and Outcomes from Using Open Digital and Open Print Textbooks," I can pay attention to how the authors use their sources. This will help me understand the conversation around my topic and can lead me to additional sources that might be useful for my paper.

This claim, that students perform as well or better using open educational resources (OER) is something I want to follow up on! The in-text citation tells me to see Hilton, 2016 for a review.

"Student performance. Numerous studies of the impact of OER on student outcomes— conducted across diverse disciplinary, institutional, and jurisdictional contexts—have repeatedly confirmed the same result: that students using OER perform just as well as or, in some cases, better than those using commercial course materials (see Hilton, 2016 for a review)."

Jhangiani, R. S., Dastur, F. N., Le Grand, R., & Penner, K. (2018). As Good or Better than Commercial Textbooks: Students’ Perceptions and Outcomes from Using Open Digital and Open Print Textbooks. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9 (1). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2018.1.5

I scroll to the bibliography at the end of the paper and look for that author (Hilton) and year (2016).

Screenshot from the bibliography showing the entry relating to Hilton, 2016 

I can find the article by following the link embedded in the PDF. For articles that don't have embedded direct links or links that lead you to a page that asks you to pay for access, Google Scholar is a great resource to find the full text for free through the library. Be sure to set Google Scholar to Find Text @ Notre Dame so that you can access articles that might be behind a paywall.

After finding this new article, I can tell it is going to be useful for my research just by reading the abstract!

"Textbooks are a vital component in many higher education contexts. Increasing textbook prices, coupled with general rising costs of higher education have led some instructors to experiment with substituting open educational resources (OER) for commercial textbooks as their primary class curriculum. This article synthesizes the results of 16 studies that examine either (1) the influence of OER on student learning outcomes in higher education settings or (2) the perceptions of college students and instructors of OER. Results across multiple studies indicate that students generally achieve the same learning outcomes when OER are utilized and simultaneously save significant amounts of money. Studies across a variety of settings indicate that both students and faculty are generally positive regarding OER."

Hilton III, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9

Because this article was published in 2016, I might want to see how other researchers have used this information since then. I can use the "cited by" link in Google Scholar to access more recent research that cites this article.

I can also use the "cite" link in Google Scholar to generate citations that I can use in my annotated bibliography. I'll double-check these with a formal citation guide before I turn in my assignment.

Reading the bibliography

Citation styles vary but they generally contain the same components: author, date, journal or book title, and article or chapter title, if applicable.

Sample Citation in Different Styles

MLA
Hilton, John. "Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions." Educational Technology Research and Development 64.4 (2016): 573-590.
APA
Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9
Chicago
Hilton, John. "Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions." Educational Technology Research and Development 64, no. 4 (2016): 573-590.

Try it out!

Following the Conversation

Complete this activity to use Google Scholar and find additional sources that may further your research

Complete the Module