MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. According to the MLA's website, they are the "leading advocate for the study and teaching of languages and literature's and serves as a clearinghouse for professional resources for teachers and scholars" (https://www.mla.org/About-Us).
MLA style is a method of documenting resources in academic writing within the humanities disciplines, including but not limited to English language and literature. When using MLA style, this applies to not only how resources are cited within a work, but also the physical formatting.
This question applies to any citation style. Why do we need citations?
When asked why you should cite your sources, many students reply, "So you don't get accused of plagiarizing." It is true that you must provide citations crediting others' work so as to avoid plagiarism, but scholars use citations for many reasons:
To make your arguments more credible. You want to use the very best evidence to support your claims. For example, if you are citing a statistic about a disease, you should use a reputable source like the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When you tell your reader the statistic comes from such a source, she will know to trust it- and thereby trust your argument more.
To show you've done your homework. You want to make it clear to your audience that you've researched your subject and know what you are talking about. As you dive deeper into your research, you will probably find certain authors are experts on the topic and are mentioned in most of the articles and books. You should read these experts' works and incorporate them into your paper.
To build a foundation for your paper. Great breakthroughs in scholarship are accomplished by building on the earlier, groundbreaking work of others. For example, Isaac Newton's law of universal gravitation would not have been possible without Johannes Kepler's law of planetary motion. What articles, books, texts, etc inspired you to create your argument? You want to provide references to the works which led to your thesis.
To allow your readers to find the sources for themselves. Someone interested in your topic may be inspired to read some of the articles and other sources you used to write your paper. The citation within the paper tells them what part of your argument is best addressed by a particular source, and the full citation in the bibliography provides them with the information needed to locate the original work.
(This information has been politely borrowed from Radford University's McConnell Library)
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WCCC's Policy on Academic Conduct
The following is part of the Student Rights, Responsibilities and Academic Conduct policy at WCCC:
Students have an obligation to conduct their academic activities honestly and conscientiously. They should give appropriate recognition by name for their contributions to published material. Each course syllabus will contain the institutional policy on plagiarism.
In addition, they shall not:
Violation of these rules can lead to a failure for a course and/or expulsion from the College.
The Works Cited list must be on a separate page from the text of your paper (use page break in Word).
Alphabetize all types of sources in one list by the author’s last name or first word of the citation (other than the, a, or an).
Double space the Works Cited page and use a hanging indent for all entries.
If a core element of a Works Cited entry does not exist or cannot be found, omit it. Do not use n.p. (no publisher) or n.d. (no date).
If a DOI (digital object identifier) is available for an electronic source, include it using the prefix https://doi.org/ and remove the hyperlink.
Include the URL for digital sources, but remove the hyperlink and do not include the http:// part of the URL.
For in-text citations, if an author is not given, use the first item that is listed on your Works Cited entry (e.g. book title, article title, web page title).
For in-text citations, place the parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence(s) where the source is used. Place the sentence’s end punctuation after the final parenthesis.
When citing digital sources, you must include the date you accessed the source in the form of “Accessed day month year” at the end of the citation on the Works Cited page.
Abbreviate most months in Works Cited entries:
When citing page numbers in Works Cited entries, use p. before a single page (p. 46). Use pp. before a page range (pp. 46-54).
When citing page numbers in in-text citations, the in-text citation should be just the page number itself and should not include the p. or pp. before the page number.
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