Tag Archives: citations

TurnItIn – what a difference 12 years make

Back in the day, as a freshmen in Humanities Core, I first was introduced to TurnItIn.  For a mass group of +400 students writing similarly themed papers, the originality check was a no-brainer effort to curb plagiarism at my alma mater.

12 years and several plagiarism conversations with students later, I find my new institution revisiting TurnItIn.  There are several more bells and whistles, but here are some of the highlights:

  • General notes
    • option to allow or disallow students from seeing originality report
    • no compulsory deposit of student papers into TurnItIn repository
    • filtering options to exclude checking of quoted items, of bibliographies, or certain limits of words (don’t check things less than 5 words, for example)
  • GradeMark – a more streamlined editing tool for faculty
    • auto-text for common mistakes (missing commas, etc.) using QuickMarks
    • voice comments (up to 3 minutes)
    • standard rubrics pre-loaded
    • can import custom writing rubrics
    • can upload and share common rubrics across department or institution
    • QuickMarks analytics can help you track frequency and type of comments provided throughout a semester
  • ETS e-rater grammar feedback
    • automatically enters QuickMarks before you even review the paper
  • PeerMark – peer editing tool
    • peers can be manually or randomly assigned automatically
    • peer reviewers can be blinded or unblinded from the paper submitter

EasyBib in Google Chrome

Today I saw an announcement about a new EasyBib Google Chrome extension tool to help with citation creation for websites.  As one of the trickiest things for students to cite, that seemed like a not-so-terrible idea.  Overall, if you’re working with MLA citations, the system seems to work pretty well, but it doesn’t overstep a bit by trying to evaluate each site’s credibility for you.  I recommend taking a look, as this is our competition against doing citations by hand.  Below are some notes and screenshots of different components of the resource.


  • MLA free but APA and Chicago/Turabian cost
  • Evaluates websites to determine if they are credible and provides a link to their evaluation criteria.  Sites are color coded in red, yellow, and green to match stop, slow down, or go ahead with the citation.  What issues are flagging one item from another are not clarified.
  • If there is no evaluation done on the site, you are directed to Evaluate It! with their Website Credibility guide.

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Microsoft Academic Search

With scholarly communications on the brain, I was thrilled to learn about Microsoft Academic Search (MAS).  Building on the work of resources like Google Scholar that gathers and indexes journal articles and Scopus and Web of Science that gathers information about how and where articles are cited by other researchers, Microsoft Academic Search brings these two items together in a *free* search. MAS also enhances the information with direct organization and department scholarly output comparisons.  Some features, like the Call for Papers (CFP) Calendar, are very much in beta but would be an overwhelmingly useful tool for academics to help manage the many, many CFPs and conference submission deadlines.

To better understand my resource comparisons, I took a sample author and compared the citation results in MAS and Scopus; images of my search results appear in the slideshow below.  The author information in MAS and Scopus both listed 4 articles publications, indicating that perhaps this information was correct.  Yet, when I looked at the 4 articles listed in each, I found that MAS had a duplicate entry for one article and, therefore, completely missed a publication.  Using the Help on MAS, I could get a look at all of the publishers they are working with and could identify that the missing article was from Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Witkins.  For the health sciences, nursing, and medicine, they are a pretty major publisher so the absence of their information in MAS would be a significant hindrance.  At the same time, the openness with which Microsoft lists their sources made this tracking down easy.

At the article level, in Scopus, the article “Breast cancer disparities and decision-making among U.S. women” was cited 24 times since its publication in 2007 (although Scopus lists the default “Cited by since 1996”) and has 84 references within the paper.  In MAS, only 60 references are listed and 15 cited papers are listed.  What happened to the rest?  This may be one of the drawbacks to the *free* service.  Looking a little closer at the details, it appears that Scopus is more complete while MAS currently stops at about 2010 for its citations.  I’m guessing a similar limitation may be the issue with the references.  While the resource appears to be in a very early beta phase, may need some data corrections, and, currently, it still doesn’t seem to account for other measures of impact such as social media sharing, it looks like I have another new toy to share with faculty in the Fall….

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For updates on MAS, you can stalk, er, follow them more directly @MSFTAcademic

Databases, URLs, and Date of Access: Things I don’t cite with APA 6th ed.

With a new year comes a new citation guide to update. To contribute my part, I’m currently working on updating the APA handout we have for students to help navigate and present examples for proper citation formatting. Having used APA for my graduate studies, I thought this will be easy…except for some of the new changes regarding electronic resource.  Now, I keep imagining myself as Johnny Carson’s Karnak. Let me explain.

While MLA has streamlined their citations with getting rid of the URL, library name, and city of library requirements for database citations by simply providing the database name, APA now no longer requires any indication that the article is from a database. For many schools, this is less of an issue since the journals are cataloged in the OPAC separately so you can search the OPAC and determine the database from there. However, without a link resolver, you’ll need to borrow Johnny’s turban to divine which database has which journal for which coverage period. (Granted there is Ulrich’s Index, but who needs the extra work of logging in or finding a print Ulrich’s to confirm a journal’s aggregator?)

Next, for online journals, APA is now asking for DOIs (Document object identifier) instead of URLs. While I am quite familiar with the havoc changed URLs can create as pages are redesigned and reorganized, DOIs have yet to be a consistently applied standard for online articles. Although the presence of free DOI lookups like Cross Ref are available, the fact that I can struggle finding DOIs for articles listed via Google Scholar doesn’t give me much confidence that the students will find them.  For example, as a sample search in PubMed, I was typically able to find the DOI for those articles once I clicked through to the full text of the article.  However, in Google Scholar, the results are not exactly the same, as I found a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine article with a DOI nowhere to be found.  Other problems with the DOI standard is that journals have not found a standard way to identify the DOI number even when it does include the information.  For example, a 2009 article from NEJM provides the number but no label identifying it as the DOI. In JSTOR, the DOI is not listed as a number but instead as part of the stable URL; the JSTOR wiki provides the background information of the difference pieces of DOI, how to decipher the DOI from the persistent URL, etc.  So are journals going to go back and provide DOIs for those older articles or just the newer ones? Will they start identifying them as DOIs consistently across platforms?

And, finally, removing the date of access from electronic citations is another remorseful update to the APA citation format.  After the other two items, this packs less of a punch but, for long ranging research, I feel it is still important for understanding when the student was reviewing a site in comparison to when you receive their paper.  For example, for students citing a newspaper article found online and one aspect from the source paper ends up being retracted and updated on the site as such, I would have less issue with the student’s discussion and would probably take the date of access vs the date of revision issue into consideration when grading.

In short, as the web continues to evolve, so does APA’s methods of citing it.  Perhaps my general comments will prove to be a fleeting concern based on past models or perhaps they will pan out like the MacBook Air, an innovation ahead of its time but frustratingly short-sighted and problematic in current usage.  Dealing mostly with MLA citations, I’m curious what other people have been experiencing with students using the new APA citation format.  Have you had to create local or personal adjustments for your own citations? Or have the general 6th edition APA formats been a success?