FAQ: Research Paper #1

How do I cite a lecture handout?

Format: Professor last name, professor first initial. Second initial if known. (Year). Lecture title [Format]. Retrieved from where: URL

Example: McGarr, K.J. (2018). Political Reporting [Handout]. Retrieved from University of Wisconsin-Madison Introduction to Mass Communication Box: uwmadison.app.box.com

How do I cite my lecture notes?

Your own notes from a lecture are considered personal communications in APA style. They are cited within the text of your assignment, but do not get an entry on the References List. This is because they are unpublished and not in a place where anyone else could go look them up. [columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/apa/notes]

The in-text citation looks like this:

Format: Blah blah blah from your lecture notes (First Initial of Faculty Who Gave Lecture. Second Initial if known. Last Name, personal communication, Month Day, Year lecture took place).

Example: Political journalism is neat (K.J. McGarr, personal communication, February 19, 2018).

How do I cite a news article without an author?  

If you are referencing a news article that doesn’t have an author, cite the source by its title. For the reference page, move the title to the first position of the reference entry. For in-text citation, cite the first few words of the title and the year. Put double quotation marks around the title or abbreviated title. For more information please refer to online resources.


Reference list: All 33 Chile miners freed in flawless rescue. (2010, October 13). Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39625809/ns/world_news-americas/

In-text citation: Here is your sentence (“All 33 Chile Miners,” 2010).

I’ve never done an appendix. What is it/how do I it?

Appendix just refers to something you’ve tacked on (or appended) to the end of your paper. In this case, you’re tacking on PDFs of the old newspaper articles you used so that your TA can reference them in evaluating your paper. So your final document includes the following items in the following order: your paper, then your references list (APA format), then the old newspaper articles.

My TA said my thesis needs to be stronger. Could my thesis be just a summary of similarities/differences between two newspaper’s coverage? How complicated do you expect my thesis statement to be?

Comparing and contrasting the coverage by the two newspapers is an important first-step for this assignment. But your task is more than that (and hopefully more interesting than that). It should tell a coherent story, not simply report what is the same and what is different.

Two tips that help you expand your thesis beyond simple comparison. First, keep in mind that your paper should be goal-oriented. In other words, it must serve a larger purpose. It could be proposing a new way of seeing/understanding something; or, it could be arguing a point, clearing up a misunderstanding, or refuting a commonly held perception. Whatever that goal is, findings from your “compare-and-contrast” work should help you get there, while not being the goal itself.

Second, ask yourself the “so-what” question– “Yes, these are the differences and similarities. But so what?” What’s the point of making such comparison? What does the result mean for the reader? Why does your paper need to exist? These questions all help you focus on the “implications,” not pure fact comparison.