Trust but verify the results of automatic citation creation tools

Almost all academic databases these days will allow you to export a properly formatted citation (APA, MLA, etc.) for a book or journal article within that database. This is a wonderful feature for undergraduates that saves a lot of really annoying formatting. It is especially helpful for eliminating the annoyance of re-arranging author first names and last names and putting in appropriate punctuation.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always come out perfectly.

For example, the citation database Scopus regularly produces a citation indicating that an article is “Available from” which is completely incorrect.  Just the citation is available from Scopus, the full text of the item is found elsewhere.

So in my library instruction sessions I regularly encourage students to double check the results of these citation generators (in databases, in web services like EasyBib and in programs like Mendeley and EndNote).

Because this is what happens when you don’t look things over:

Bad citation from the tumblr blog "Shit my Students Write"

So take a minute or two to look over your bibliography – you don’t want to look silly.


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