ITS 311: IT Communications

Chapter 6: Documenting Research


This chapter discusses major documentation styles. Objectives important to this chapter:

  1. The three functions of documentation
  2. The APA documentation style
  3. The MLA documentation style
  4. The Number Systems
  5. The Chicago documentation style

The chapter begins with a short list: "the three functions of documentation".

  • Ethical acknowledgment of your sources - As the last chapter explained, it is unethical and unlawful to use the material of others without proper acknowledgment. One of the purposes of this chapter is to provide a guide to making such acknowledgments.
  • Establishment of authority and credibility - If you choose your sources well, your references to their work will benefit from the reputation and credibility of those sources. Using good sources also shows that proper research was done.
  • Efficiency for further study - References made in any of the standard styles contain all the information your readers will need to find those works and more.

The major reference styles discussed in the chapter are noted above by their short names. More fully, they are:

Which style should you use? It is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of what kind of work you are conducting, or what style is required by the authority you are submitting your work to. These styles are typically used for scholarly work, and for documenting the research of students. It is the responsibility of a student to determine which documentation style to use for papers written for each class. Documents submitted to professional and scholarly journals also must contain references in the appropriate style or those submissions may be rejected without review. Like the requirements of specific classes, the authority in charge of a journal may choose whatever style seems best. A writer should review the style requirements of the publication they are writing for before writing the document.

Different styles are used in different disciplines. The styles are varied enough that a writer should review the appropriate style before beginning work on a document that requires it.