Handling Tricky Citation Questions


Often, when a student comes to AskAway with a citation question, it’s a tricky citation they have not found a rule or example for. Helping students with these tricky citations often requires your interpretation.

Know Your Own Comfort Level

  • How far to take a citation question is up to you but will likely depend on the following:
    • How many other chats you’re currently handling
    • Your level of comfort handling difficult citation questions
  • When helping with a tricky citation, use your best judgment and explain your reasoning to the student.
  • If the citation is complicated and requires interpretation, always refer them to their instructor for the final evaluation.

Teach Students to Build Citations

  • If no perfect rule or example exists, help the student make their best effort to match an example from the guide.
  • You may recommend that the student builds their citation based on rules and examples for more than one type of resource.

Remind Students of the Purpose of Citing

  • Take a step back and remind the student of the purpose of citing (i.e. to reference their sources and to show the reader a path back to their original source).
    • This will help the student better understand what information they need to include in a citation and why as well as help them justify these choices.