Quick & Easy Citations with Databases

Citations got you down? There’s an easier way! (CC image by Peter Alfred Hess)

When your professor asks you to cite your sources in APA (or MLA, AMA, APSA, ASFDKJ…), what do you do? If you’re a traditionalist, you might consult a style manual like Purdue OWL and type them out by hand, searching out each piece of information and formatting it accordingly. If you’re looking for a shortcut, Microsoft Word can help you out, or a number of websites like citationmachine.net or easybib.com. Those are all fine options, but I think there’s an easier way. Whether you find your research using QuickSearch, one of the library databases, or even Google Scholar, most modern databases will automatically cite your sources for you, if you know where to look.

If you’ve done any academic research, you’ve probably (hopefully!) ended up in one of the library’s subscription databases. Not only will you find free, high-quality articles from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals, but most providers will let you create citations in the style of your choice with just a click. Either copy each citation as you go, or you can even select the articles that you need from your different searches and cite them all at once when you’re finished. The tools will look a bit different in various databases, but here are some common examples:

If you’ve only ever searched one library database, chances are, it was from either EBSCO or ProQuest. Since they’re both the most popular and the largest vendors (that’s why there’s a bunch of different databases that have EBSCO, for example, in the name and look the same), we’ll start here. In ProQuest, the process is pretty simple. Just check the boxes of the articles you need and click “Cite” to generate a mini-bibliography in whichever style you choose:

Alternatively, you can also cite individual articles from the detailed record page, save articles from multiple searches to a folder (aka shopping cart) and cite them all together, or email yourself a list of articles with links and citations. EBSCO makes you work just a bit harder; there’s no option to cite directly from the search results screen, but all of the other options still apply. In EBSCO, look for a yellow paper icon to open the citation panel:

QuickSearch lets you find materials from each of our databases at once, plus all of our books, ebooks, videos, and other materials. Better yet, QuickSearch also has a built-in citation tool. That means that you can use QuickSearch to create a citation for any item from the library, no matter which database it’s from or if it’s only available in print. This is your secret weapon in the quest to create a bibliography. As long as you get your research from the library, you can use QuickSearch to create your citations. (Hint: If you’ve found an item from somewhere else (like the catalog or a database without a citation tool and need to cite it, the easiest method is just to search for it by title in QuickSearch.) Look for the quotation mark icon and select the style that you need. 

If you’re a fan of Google Scholar, you’ve got options. You can most likely get a citation from whichever database provides you with the full-text of the article, but Google Scholar can hook you up as well (good news if you find an article provided by another institution). (Hint: If you use Google Scholar and you’re not already linked into Touro’s subscription access, take 30 seconds to set it up.) Look for the word Cite in the bottom line of each record. Click here and you’ll get citations in 5 of the most popular styles.

Create a citation quickly with Google Scholar

Unfortunately, if you’re trying to cite websites, online news or magazine articles, or other online content of perhaps questionable quality, you’re on your own. If there’s a great online source that doesn’t have a citation feature, check out our Citations LibGuide for links to style guides and alternate recommended tools. However, if you’ve been putting off making the switch to library search engines (and scholarly articles), consider this an excellent reason to take the plunge.

P.S. If you’re working on a big research project and want to keep all of your research organized in addition to easily creating a bibliography, check out RefWorks.

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