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Different citation forms

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Look at the following citations taken from Paragraphs 1 and 3 of the Harvard sample essay.

Do you notice any difference in the way these two citations are set out? Can you think of any reason why they would be set out differently?

A consequence of this change has been a substantial increase in the number of single parent families and the attendant problems that this brings (Kilmartin, 1997).
For example, Bilton, Bonnett and Jones (1987) argue that increased rates of divorce do not necessarily indicate that families are now more unstable.


The first citation from Paragraph 1 is called an 'information-prominent' citation and has the structure:

information + (author, date)

The citation in Paragraph 3 is known as an 'author-prominent' citation and has the structure:

author (date) + verb + information

In general terms, information-prominent citations are used when you are dealing with information which, in the context of your essay, is not controversial (or what we might think of as factual in some sense). Author-prominent citations are used when you are dealing not with information as such, but with the ideas of individual writers - ideas with which you wish to engage in the essay.

Another way to see the difference is that with an information-prominent citation (as in Paragraph 1), the actual citation is not part of the grammatical structure of the sentence - it is simply added on in brackets, usually at the end of the sentence. By contrast, with an author-prominent citation (as in Paragraph 3), the author's name (in this case, the authors' names) forms part of the grammatical structure of the sentence: typically, though not always, as the subject of a verb of saying or thinking, as in this case.

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