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Communications--Public Relations: Citing


cover of APA style manualHOW TO CITE
In Communications research, you will need to find sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) and then cite them.  Meaning:
- Cite (mention) them in the  body of your writing every time you quote or paraphrase them.
- Cite (list) them at the end of your research, in a "Works Cited" or "References" or "Bibliography" page

You cannot mention or list your sources any way you want.  If everyone did that, it would be chaos for readers to properly identify and track down your sources.  So there are rules, or formats, on how to cite your sources.   Some majors use a format called MLA.  Others use a format called Chicago.  In the field of Communications, the most common format is APA  (it comes from the American Psychological Association).

So what are the rules, or formats, for APA style? 
- The official explanation is from the APA website, here.  (And their APA stylebook is for sale here).
- A more detailed, yet easier to understand, explanation is from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL), here
- The CSUF Pollak Library also has a handy APA summary guide too, here.
- A good training video, of using APA to cite, is available from the CSUDH Library, here: icon of video play button
- This PDF handout gives specific examples of citing sources (articles, books, newspapers, etc.) for COMM majors:

There are several ways you can compile, or keep track of, all your sources:
1. Compile them yourself (manually).  As you find books and articles, you can use the "cite" tool (button)--available on OneSearch and the databases--to autormatically put your sources in APA format (note: these auto-cite buttons are not always 100% accurate; use them, but double check them yourself for accuracy). Then you can copy-&-paste these into a Word document--your master source list.
2. Store them in OneSearch pins & databases folders.  OneSearch and the databases allow you to save citation info (author, title, link, etc.) in personalized "pins" (OneSearch) or "folders" (the databases). Then the next time you return to OneSearch or the databases, you can login to your pins or personalized folders and see all your saved sources still there. 
3. Use EndNote Web.  EndNote Web is separate program that helps you compile and organize all your sources into APA format
4. Use ZoteroZotero is a Firefox browser add-on that collects, manages, and cites research sources.

These are two terms you may hear your professors say they want from you.  But what are these?
- A Literature Review is an essay where you briefly describe (summarize, compare) all the sources you found.  You don't need to go into excessive detail; a few sentences describing each source is typical.
- An Annotated Bibliography is your list of sources at then end of your paper but with a short summary (few sentences), under each source, describing what the source is about.
The CSUF Pollak Library has created a detailed guide on creating Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies, here.


INTROimage of Artificial Intelligence robot typing
What is AI? 
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to computer programs that can simulate human thinking.  That is, they can write essays, respond to questions, produce text/audio/video, and so on.  These programs do not "think" in the sense of having their own consciousness with original thought; instead, they draw upon existing human text/audio/video on the internet to assemble their content. 
What are the positives and negatives of AI-written content?
AI has received a lot of attention in recent years.  Some of it is negative, such as students using AI programs (like ChatGPT, below) to write papers for them, instead of actually writing content themselves.  Another concern is that since AI draws upon existing human content on the Internet, it is susceptible to repeating biases and past thinking.  But AI has positives too.  It can be helpful in generating ideas for essays...or generating sample paragraphs for students to reword in their own wording...or generating counter-arguments in order for students to strengthen their writing.
What is ChatGPT? 
ChatGPT is a current AI content-generating program.  It stands for "Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer."  The program creates text---assembled as though researched and written by a human---based on prompting (providing) it with a topic/keywords.  ChatGPT was created by the AI software company OpenAI and launched in November 2022.  It has become popular worldwide, but is not the only content-generating AI program; other programs include Google's Gemini, Claude, Microsoft's Copilot, and more (all listed here).  To begin using ChatGPT, consult a tutorial site or video tutorial (example, here) and then go to the ChatGPT login

If you, as a College of Communications student, use ChatGPT or another AI program to generate content, can you claim authorship of this wording yourself?  No.  You didn't write it.  A computer program did.  So you must give credit to the program for the written content.  Likewise, if you come across a website/article/video/etc. that has been assembled by AI, you likewise must cite it as AI-generated, not authored by a human.  APA gives guidance on citing AI & ChatGPT -generated content.  The formula is this:
Citing in the body of your writing
Since your AI-generated text is being generated by a program of the OpenAI company, APA states you place the company in the author spot.  So you would cite it in your sentence as either OpenAI (2023) or (OpenAI, 2023).  The year will vary depending on what year the text was generated.  If you are citing AI-generated text from a different program, then you simply state that program's company.  For example, some generated text from the Copilot program would be: Microsoft (2024) or (Microsoft, 2024).
Listing in your Reference list (Works Cited list)
At the end of your paper when you list all your sources, APA states you list your AI-generated sources using the following model: name of AI company. (year). name of AI-program (version number, if known) [additional description of what the AI content is]. web address to the source.  So, an example would be: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (3.5 version) [AI-generated text].

AI-generated text:     Hyperwrite. (2021). Hyperwrite (1.0 version) [AI-generated text].
AI-generated video:  OpenAI. (2024). Sora (1.0 version) [AI-generated video].

Communications Librarian

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John Hickok