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Mining References: Citational Practice

The Politics of Citation: Names, Texts, Theories

“Citation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before; those who helped us find our way when the way was obscured because we deviated from the paths we were told to follow. In this book, I cite feminists of color who have contributed to the project of naming and dismantling the institutions of patriarchal whiteness”

           - Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 17.


"What might it mean for Black feminist scholars to say they are theorists in the tradition of Anna Julia Cooper or Fannie Barrier Williams, or Ida B Wells or Patricia Hill Collins or Joy James, in the same way that scholars are allowed to claim that they are Marxist, or Freudian or Foucauldian, or Kantian, or Spinozan? What might it look like to be Cooperian or Wellsian in our approach to the study of Black women's lives and Black intellectual thought?"

           - Brittney C. Cooper, Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2017), 3.

Be Mindful....

How publications are

  • cataloged (either in databases or library catalogs -- inadequate or misleading subject headings, errors in records)
  • distributed/circulated (which databases index/include a particular journal? how do presses' reputational politics and even marketing strategies affect awareness of book publications? what are the reputational politics of online-only publications and/or publications that resist or challenge the standard peer-review model?) 
  • canonized (which books/articles are identified as "classics" or "must-reads"? which are included on exam lists?)

can affect whether or not they are cited. Be mindful of who and how you cite.

Using BOTH keyword and subject-term searches can help you uncover materials that might be obfuscated by these systems. 

Be creative with your keywords. As you read, be mindful of words/terms that might be useful for more inclusive searching.

Why cite?

Give credit to the ideas, words, and works of others

Allow readers to find your sources

Avoid plagiarism

Online Style Guides

The Research and Citation section of Purdue University's OWL site also includes helpful quick overviews and sample citations from the main citation styles (including Chicago, MLA, and APA


Zotero is a free, easy-to-use, open source tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.

Zotero works with your browser! But it will only work with Firefox, Safari, or Chrome.

See the library's Zotero research guide for help with downloading and useful tips.

I can also help get you started with Zotero! Email me at if you have questions about Zotero, or would like to schedule a Zotero training session with.

For additional information, see the Zotero website.


EndNote is a program for managing bibliographic citations. It can automate much of the work of organizing and formatting citations and bibliographies in your writing. EndNote can connect to online sources such as GIL and article databases, output results in over 1,000 different bibliographic styles, and more.

Please see the library's EndNote research guide for information on how to download and use the software.

Don't want to download the software? Use EndNoteWeb, the Web-based version that allows you to access your citations from any computer, any where, any time. .

"Cited References"

Once you start to find relevant books/articles for your work, look at the citations in those sources. This will help you:

  • Understand whose work has influenced that author's work
  • See how the author has used those sources to construct their argument
  • Find other sources for your own work 

Some databases will include links to items cited within an article (look for a link to "Cited References" -- this can be helpful, but clunky. You can also look up a citation in a database using Advanced Search and putting the title in one box and the author in another.

Not sure what discipline a cited article is in? Try using the library's Advanced Discover Search (see link on the library's homepage), which will let you search for a particular title + author across many of our databases.

"Cited By"

It can also be useful to see who cited a particular article or book that you've found valuable. If you look up a particular article or book in these two sites, you'll find, as part of the item's record, a link to items that cite that source. This lets you look forward to see who was influenced by a particular work. (You can also use these sites to see who has cited your work -- which you may need down the road for promotion/tenure purposes).

Note: Web of Science tends to be spotty on humanities coverage (who would have guessed this from a database called Web of Science??) so Google Scholar may provide more complete cited-by information. Neither one is 100% foolproof though.