Guidelines for Acknowledging Sources



(To see the General Guidelines)

(To see the Sample Reference List)


Sample Paragraphs with Properly Cited Sources

(Bolding in the example below is for demonstration only. Do not use any bolding in your own text.)

   Explanations of Bolded Text
Randall Collins makes a strong and counterintuitive claim that "society itself is ultimately based not upon reasoning or rational agreement but upon a nonrational foundation" (1992:4). He begins by discussing two reasons why rationality is not a sufficient basis for social life. First, Collins argues that even fully rational actors can create irrational outcomes when they focus too much on following rules or procedures efficiently but slavishly, rather than trying to achieve the intended goals of those rules (1992:4-5). Second, he argues that rational actors will choose to cheat others, at least in the short term, thus making lasting social relations based solely on rational contracts unlikely (Collins 1992:14).

All references must be identified by the last name of the author, year of publication, and page number. A colon (no spaces) separates the year and page number. Notice that the last quotation marks go before and the period goes after the year and page number in parentheses, when a direct quotation is embedded in the text.


If the author's name is not in the sentence, insert name, year of publication, then a colon and the page number, all enclosed in parentheses. The date should always be included in a citation.

Collins concludes that social relations depend on what Emile Durkheim called "the precontractual basis of social solidarity" (1985:161) or an underlying feeling of trust. Such trust is necessary because social relations require that people have faith that other people will uphold their agreements. Collins argues that such faith or trust is achieved most notably through "social rituals" (1992:29), in which people collect together and focus their attention on a single "symbolic object," thereby generating solidarity in the group and trust in each other (1992:42-43).

When citing a source found in a collection of readings or an edited volume of articles, cite the author's name, not the editor's name, and date and page number of the collection.


Always cite the source whenever you use someone's ideas, whether you quote directly or paraphrase.

While Collins's main examples involve religious rituals (1992:30-59), his argument may apply even to seemingly mundane interactions. For instance, gossip, "evaluative talk about a person who is not present" (Eder and Enke 1991:494), may constitute a social ritual in which people focus their attention on a symbolic object (the missing person), thus increasing the solidarity of the group as well as generating trust, even if the person being gossiped about is a member of the group. Why trust is generated in this case requires further explanation. . .

Place citations so that your own ideas are clearly distinguished from those of the author(s) you cite.




Collins, Randall. 1992. Sociological Insight: An Introduction to Non-Obvious Sociology. New York: Oxford.

Author. Year. Book Title. Place Published: Publisher.

Durkheim, Emile. 1985 [1893]. "Precontractual Solidarity." Pp. 161-174 in Three Sociological Traditions: Selected Readings, edited by Randall Collins. New York: Oxford.

Author. Year [Year Originally Published]. "Title of Article." Page Numbers in Title of Collection, edited by Editor. Place Published: Publisher.

Eder, Donna and Janet Lynne Enke. 1991. "The Structure of Gossip: Opportunities and Constraints on Collective Expression among Adolescents." American Sociological Review 56:494-508.

Author. Year. "Title of Article." Journal Title. Volume:Page Numb


In a final section titled "REFERENCES," list all items cited in the text alphabetically by author [and, for multiple items by same author, by year of publication].


The bolded generic versions of these examples include all the information which you must include (in that order) in a given kind of reference.


Underline book titles if italics are unavailable.


Use a "hanging indentation" for reference-list entries, if possible.


Reference lists should include only the books or articles you actually cite in the text. Putting a book or article into the reference list, tells the reader that you personally have consulted that source.



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