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Anthropology: Student's Practical Guide to Writing Papers: Citation Format for Anthropology Papers

Overview

The seven magical rules of term paper writing apply to all research papers. But anthropology term papers are different from papers you may have written for other courses, or for a writing class. Anthropology, like sociology and psychology, uses a distinctive citation format. We think this format is easier to use than other formats and once you're familiar with it, we think you'll agree. 

Anthropologists document the use of other people's work--the sources of ideas or data used in a paper--by placing citations in the text of the paper. Documentation, for our purposes, means providing bibliographic references to sources. A citation is a bibliographic reference to a specific source--a book, an article, or other source of information. In-text citation simply means placing citations in the text of the paper, instead of in footnotes. In-text citation documents the use of sources of data and ideas, just as reference (bibliographic) footnotes do, but in-text citations are used instead of such footnotes in anthropology. You do not use reference footnotes or endnotes when you write a paper using the in-text citation format.

You were probably taught to use reference footnotes to document your use of sources, and the world is full of people who say "footnote" when they mean "citation." Hang in there; things will become clearer as we go along. For now, do the best you can to forget about using footnotes as a method of documentation.

The important thing to understand, then, is that in-text citation replaces reference footnotes. Here's what in-text citation looks like:

The evidence for this hypothesis is suspect (Burns 1969:32).

Tonkinson (1978:27) notes that the Aborigines of the Western Desert...

As you can see, the in-text citation supplies, in parentheses, the name of the author, the year of publication, and the page(s) on which the material cited can be found. When citing journal articles in the natural sciences, page numbers are usually omitted unless it is a direct quotation--most articles are short and if the reader wants to find the item, s/he can read the article. Not true for a 300 page book.   Note the punctuation: this is exactly how it should appear in all your anthropology papers. Also note that when the name of the author is used as part of the text, as in the second example, only the year of publication and page numbers are placed within the parentheses.

Now, if I'm your inscrutable TA and I'm interested in finding out more about something I read in your paper (because it is just so bizarre or wonderful that I have to know more about it), then I turn from your citation to your reference list at the end of your paper. This list of all the works cited in your paper provides information needed to locate sources online, or in the library or bookstore. The citations and the reference list make it possible for the reader to track down material that may be useful. As your TA, I can find interesting stuff simply by tracing your citation back to your source. In that source are more citations, leading me back to your source's sources (squared as it were). These in turn have citations and reference lists leading to their sources (sources cubed?). Your paper becomes a link in a citation chain when you cite from publications connected in this way. (TAs have funny ideas about how to spend their time.)

The citation format used in anthropology is less work than the footnote format because you only have to type out the complete bibliographic information for a source once--in the reference list. (Complete bibliographic information includes titles, publisher, place of publication, and so on. We'll get to that.) In a paper using reference footnotes, you have to type that information twice--once in the footnote itself, and then again in the reference list. This seems like extra work to me. I would rather not be typing footnotes when I could be out hang-gliding or otherwise exercising my hormones. I think in-text citations are quicker and easier than reference footnotes, and they do exactly the same thing in terms of documenting the use of a source and providing access to that source.