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How to Teach Research Papers - Creating Bibliography (Source) Cards

Updated on January 17, 2013

Why Use Bibliography (Source) Cards?

In order to best avoid plagiarism, it is imperative that students keep their resources for their research paper well organized. Using an efficient system of documenting sources and the information recorded from those sources helps students do just that. The more disorganized the research is, the more likely plagiarism is going to occur.

Keeping track of sources using note cards helps students to keep their information organized. This can be done in a few different ways; you should choose the technique that is going to work the best for the students you work with and the resources you have at your disposal.

How to Make Bibliography (Source) Cards

There are a few different ways to help students keep track of their resources. Using index cards is one approach or they can be documented digitally in a word processing document. I like to use a combination of both of these methods to ensure my studesnts have the best chance of staying organized.

After teaching the MLA format to students, handing out reference materials, introducing students to websites like EasyBib and Son of a Citation, and showing students how subscription databases have citations already written for every article they look up, we move on to how to organize that information. The old school method is to copy down each works cited entry onto a numbered note card, with proper MLA format. This information will later be added to the works cited page at the end of the paper.

A more efficient digital method is to have students copy and paste the citations, either from the helpful citation websites or from the databases, directly into a Word document. This helps students to make sure that punctuation is correct with their citations.

I like for my students to do both. Writing down the information on the note cards helps them to practice MLA formatting, but keeping a running document with the information makes sure that the information for the citation is correct. It also makes it easier later on when they have to make a works cited page that they can just copy and paste the information from the document into their paper.

System to Connect to Notes

Taking note cards is another vital step of the process and bibliography cards and note cards go hand in hand. Be sure to have students number the bibliography cards as they are finding their sources. Later on, these numbers will be used on the note cards that correspond with that source. This technique will help students to keep track of which information came from which source. Below is an example of what a bibliography card should look like, containing MLA formatting and the number of the source.


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