Using style manuals and citations can seem like pointless busy work that prevents you from getting an A on an otherwise well-written paper. So why do we use them? What's the point?
Style guidelines are intended to help with readability in publishing. Things like putting titles in italics is an example of a style guideline that helps direct the eye of the reader to certain information.
Citations are intended to establish credibility and prevent us from plagiarizing. Why shouldn't we be able to say, "Smith argues for tougher sentencing laws", and leave it at that? Well, which Smith is it? When did she say that? Did he really say it or did someone else interpret his words that way? We want to direct our readers to the source. However, it would be cumbersome to say, "In an interview on CNN on December 4, 2015, Senator Jane Smith of Texas said that she didn't believe the sentence for the rapist was long enough, which obviously means she is a proponent of tougher sentencing laws." So we use a two-fold system of documenting our sources: we briefly mention the source in our writing - "Smith argued for a longer sentence in a rape case ("Interview"), indicating she may possibly argue for tougher sentencing laws." - then we craft a full citation for our list of sources.
Wait, what about copyright?
Typically, copyright protections prevent someone from recreating or copying another person's work, and typically applies to the work in its entirety. If you print out or make a copy of a book, for instance, you're not really trying to pass it off as your own, so you're not plagiarizing. However, you are violating copyright - you do not have the right to copy the entire book, cd, etc. Copyright laws are intended to protect creative property and the money the creator stands to make from it, whereas anti-plagiarism rules are intended to protect the intellectual property of the creator. Using copyrighted materials for academic purposes is sometimes okay - it falls under the doctrine of fair use - but only applies to a portion of the work. For instance, you could share a clip from a movie or song as part of your assignment, but not the whole movie or song.
For more information about copyright, see the LSC Copyright Information Guide.
MLA refers to the guidelines established by the Modern Language Association. This is the style of writing and citations used in the humanities, and is often adopted by other fields when citations are necessary. It is the style you will most likely encounter in your coursework at LSC.
APA refers to the guidelines established by the American Psychological Association. This is the style of writing and citations used in social sciences. You'll likely need a working knowledge of APA for psychology classes, and possibly sociology and criminal justice.
Chicago refers to the guidelines established by the Chicago Manual of Style, published by the University of Chicago Press. Originally created to offer guidelines to typesetters and publishers, Chicago is most often used in history classes at LSC.
Academic integrity: supporting and engaging in actions that promote fair and accurate evaluation of all material prepared for and related to college work while respecting and crediting the unique efforts of others**
Citation style: authorities in different areas of study have created style guides to determine how writing should be presented and published for the field, and how sources should be credited to avoid plagiarism. Typically classes at LSC-UP use MLA, APA, or Chicago styles.
Copyright: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work)*
Fair Use: your ability to use copyrighted materials for school work; depends on the amount of a work used and the purpose***
Intellectual property: property (as an idea, invention, or process) that derives from the work of the mind or intellect*
Plagiarism: the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person*
* Definitions from Merriam Webster Online
**Definition from LSC Libraries Academic Integrity Brochure
***Definition from LSC Libraries Copyright Information Page