The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907
September 24, 2004
Volume 99, Issue 4
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Site makes citations a breeze
Students need only to enter only basic information to have KnightCite make their citations for them.

“The purpose of citations is not to give kids another thing to learn. The purpose of citations is to avoid plagiarism of other people’s work, and in anything we can create or give students to help avoid plagiarizing other people’s work I think is for the better,” said junior Justin “Juice” Searls of the new Knightcite program he designed this summer.

Created with the support of Calvin’s ALIVE program, Knightcite is a free citation tool that will help Calvin students cite sources for their papers in a fast and easy way.

ALIVE, an acronym for Advanced Learning in Virtual Environments, is a program which works with faculty to promote the creation of virtual

learning experiences by providing training, consulting and funding to ALIVE project teams.

According to Calvin’s Teaching and Learning Multimedia specialist John Niedzielski, who is also Searls’ supervisor, the Knightcite idea was initiated when Greg Sennema, a digital resources librarian, approached Niedzielski about improving the college’s existing citing resource by including other styles like the APA or Chicago style. No more will students have to pore over the minutest details of a full stop or a comma in their bibliographies, or memorize the various formats for citing a newspaper, journal or magazine source. And no more will students have to worry about feeling like a plagiarist or lose points because they couldn’t turn in the laborious “Works Cited” page. For those students who have or will be taking English 101, the new Knightcite is good news.

Sennema, who is a digital resource librarian at Calvin, explained that “the idea of a citation generator was initially considered as a response to the complexity of properly citing electronic resources, particularly full-text articles found in the library’s subscription research databases, but generally to all types of citations. St. Martin’s Handbook provides sample citations for a variety of format types in each bibliographic style. We thought it would be helpful to, in effect, allow students to create their own samples based on information they provide about their research. There are other citation generators on the Web, but we wanted to have our own to ensure it addressed the full text article issue mentioned above.”

Searls, who wrote bibliographies all summer, also researched three or four other major online citation generators. In building one for Calvin students, he marked out the shortcomings of the citation generators and made improvements on them for Knightcite.

Sennema expressed his hopes about the ways in which this new technology would help Calvin students: “There is an increasing number of free and subscription–based citation tools available on the Internet, with students being of course drawn to the free ones to help them created their citations. In response to this, we could have ignored the free citation tools, referred students to these other tools or create our own to ensure both relevant and high quality results. We chose the last option. We were fortunate to have the existence of the ALIVE Project and that a student of Justin Searls’ abilities was able to create such a comprehensive generator as Knightcite.”

“My only hope is that students will be able to write more complete citations by being prompted to give the information they need for a full citation, and be able to have a quick and easy interface to do that and get it done on a platform where they can generate this information quickly,” said Searls of expected student use of the new generator.

Niedzielski commented on some faculty members’ response to Knightcite as well. “The faculty that I’ve talked to have been pleased to see this. Rather than avoiding it because of time and having to learn these new styles, students can concentrate on the actual information that goes into it. So Justin is working with the library to address some of those concerns. It is not a no-brainer activity because there are links to information supporting the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things. There is also a ‘show info’ tab where the library will be able to place content which will strengthen it as an educational tool.”

Niedzielski is also excited to hear the responses from students. “It’s something that the entire community can benefit from as well as potential students from other schools, high school students or other colleges who will link on to our site as well.”

And Knightcite is, as expected, gradually gaining popularity among students. Junior Yubbie Essien, said, “Wonderful, I think it’s a great thing! It takes time getting citations all right and that stuff, and I remember I lost points in my history class for my research papers. If this site had been there, I would have had a better grade.”

Senior Emily Steenwyk admitted that she had not used it yet but the idea sounds more convenient than making her own bibliographies.

Cheryl Brown, a freshman, echoed the other students’ remarks. “I think it’s cool. I have English 101 next semester. Since it has different versions of the bibliography and some profs want different things, it’s gonna cut down on time. I think it’ll be easier once you type your information in to see the structure and fit everything in and really figure out which structure is which form. So even though you’re not doing all of the hard work you still see the end result and it’ll click. So that’s tight!”

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