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Author Topic: Nonfiction Advice  (Read 2146 times)
threetails
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« on: October 05, 2010, 03:11:55 AM »

I'm going to post this in quite a few places so that maybe I'll find someone who knows.

Does anyone know what the etiquette is for citations in a book that is marketed as opinion/punditry?  I know the standards are probably a lot more lax than for most types of nonfiction because of the subjective nature and the fact that op-ed doesn't have to be proven.

For example, if you mention an event or a piece of legislation that is salient to the point you're making, do you have to cite a news article?
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Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 04:13:35 AM »

I honestly don't know how to cite opinion. I know where I would look. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/

I tried to look around, but the server went down for maintenance. Just remember, anything you're told there is just opinion and punditry  Cool
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 06:19:03 AM »

legislation is cited by bill number, like HR 153 or what not.
as for punditry books, the only standard I know of is the MLA citation.
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 10:01:25 AM »

You don't, far as I'm aware, have to cite anything unless it's a direct quote or a close paraphrase. But when I write meta articles for my writing blog, I usually go by the standard of "if I looked it up, I'll cite the source", and on the furry forum I run which accepts articles/opinion pieces in a subforum, I've set the rule as "if you're citing numbers, you better have a source for them" or something to that general effect.

That's mostly for your own credibility, though. If I say "half the US population is expected to be using Smartphones by June 2011" I could just be making that up. If I actually cite an article that I got it from (which I would, except I already closed the tab, and I'm just making a point right now), it shows that I've done -- that I'm willing to do -- my research.

Writing a book, I'd use a proper citation style. Possibly not MLA, depending on the tone of your text -- look up the citation styles that use footnotes so you're not stuck with so many "blablablabla" (Lastname et al, 1908) or "Lastname claims that yadayadayada (1908)" in the body of your text, if you feel MLA style citations would break flow.

(I myself use some kind of bastardization citation for my metawriting articles, mostly because I prioritize making the works identifiable and MLA doesn't include ISBNs; also I use Wikipedia-like references (square brackets with a number) to avoid disrupting the flow of the text and to make it easier to follow that these three references are to the same source.)
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Sneeze
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 11:57:35 AM »

You must cite anything that isn't common knowledge and isn't your own idea; quote, close paraphrase, or re-wording.  Granted, that is for high-class academia and school essays, but if it's a punditry book I think the standards prevail. 

The style I'd recommend, and that QM mentioned, is Chicago/Turabian style.  Quick lil' footnotes or endnotes, doesn't take up space in the text, and the references are nice and easy to find.  Chicago also allows someone to include extra little nuggets that would interrupt the textual flow, but may be relevant.  Again, though, that's considered bad form in history circles nowadays, so if it isn't important enough to include in the body, most just drop it. 

Aaaaaand here's a link!  http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/rewriting/rc2.html  It has four different styles, so even if you don't like Chicago you have a few others on hand. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2010, 11:17:23 PM »

As Sneeze said. Being in college right now, failing to cite a source is plagiarism.
If you ever looked in back of a book, it has a bibliography.
For nonfiction, you use Modern Language Association of America format, MLA.
For science papers, like medical journals, you use American Psychological Association format, APA.

for ease, use http://www.easybib.com/
Site will autocite urls and books from their IBN numbers.
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"It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office."
H. L. Mencken
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