Skip to Main Content

Citation Help

In academic writing it is important to cite resources you consult. This guide will overview the process for various types of resources and introduce you to software programs that can help with the process.

Discussion Guide

The following is a discussion guide intended for use by faculty or staff. Download the attached file as a handout for instructional purposes.

Part 1: Class Discussion


Read the following excerpt from “Making Feminist Points” by Sara Ahmed:


In my first ever blog (not that long ago, but already it feels like a long time ago!) I created a list. We might call this a list of the tendencies that feminist killjoys share. One of these tendencies relates to citation. Feminist killjoys “will point out when men cite men about men as a learned social habit that is diminishing (ie. most or usual citational practice).”

I am of course describing this feminist killjoy tendency in my own terms here. But so many of my feminist killjoy experiences within the academy relate to the politics of citation: I would describe citation as a rather successful reproductive technology, a way of reproducing the world around certain bodies.

These citational structures can form what we call disciplines. I was once asked to contribute to a sociology course, for example, and found that all the core readings were by male writers. I pointed this out and the course convener implied that “that” was simply a reflection of the history of the discipline. Well: this is a very selective history! The reproduction of a discipline can be the reproduction of these techniques of selection, ways of making certain bodies and thematics core to the discipline, and others not even part. [...]

We are not just talking about citation within academic contexts. We are talking about what I think of as screening techniques: how certain bodies take up spaces by screening out the existence of others. If you are screened out (by virtue of the body you have) then you simply do not even appear or register to others. You might even have to become insistent, wave your arms, even shout, just to appear. And then of course how you appear (as being insistent) means you still tend not to be heard.

When we think this question “who appears?” we are asked a question about how spaces are occupied by certain bodies who get so used to their occupation that they don’t even notice it. They are comfortable, like a body that sinks into a chair that has received its shape over time. To question who appears is to become the cause of discomfort. It is almost as if we have a duty not to notice who turns up and who doesn’t. Just noticing can get in the way of an occupation of space.

When I think back to my own experience as an academic many of my most uncomfortable moments have been as a result of asking this question: who appears? And: who does not appear? [1]


Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to think about citation as a means of reproduction?
  2. What does it mean to think about citation as a “screening technique”?
  3. Who have you noticed is missing from courses you’ve taken?
  4. How do you determine what sources to cite for your work?
  5. What does it mean for a source to be academically credible? How might this limit what or who we cite?


Part 2: Small Group Discussion


With your partner or group, choose one source that you’ve read in this class so far or a source you’re using for an assignment. This can be an article, a book chapter, or even a textbook. Choose any of the following questions that are relevant to your source and discuss. 


  1. How did the author(s) reach their conclusions? How do they follow or not follow disciplinary standards?
  2. Who are they citing? Is there anything or anyone obviously missing, including other sources from this class?
  3. How did you find this source? What does this tell you about the source?
  4. How is their methodology similar to or different from other sources you’ve read?
  5. What other kinds of sources would provide similar information? Why are you reading this source?

[1]  Sara Ahmed, “Making Feminist Points,” Feministkilljoys (blog), September 11, 2013,

Zotero Library

Like any good research project, this LibGuide was shaped by many more sources than those cited here. You can find the full bibliography of resources compiled in the Reed College Library Ethical Citation Bibliography group Zotero library. Many of these sources come from existing bibliographies compiled by the Cite Black Women Collective, recommendations from K. Wayne Yang, and more.