STUDENT SUCCESS & What you should cite in a book or resource

Students sometimes cite scholarly sources in a manner in which it is unclear to the professor that the student can apply the tools in the book they are citing.  To help students understand how to cite a book and specifically what exactly they should cite from an resource, I have filmed this short introduction.

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

keywords: LEAD 600 545 558 557 545 711 712 701 outside sources citations

STUDENT SUCCESS & The Best Way to Cite eBooks in APA Format

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/7/16.

Sometimes students wonder how to cite eBooks (such as Kindle) correctly in APA format. You can find the answer to most APA questions quickly by checking Purdue’s “OWL” (Online Writing Lab), just CLICK on …

  • COURSE DASHBOARD (in the left menu on Learning Studio)
    • IWU RESOURCES (in the left menu again)
      • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) – Considered to be one of the best writing centers available and used at many universities. (under APA RESOURCES)

Here is link to the OWL site with the answer:  And here is what is says:

Electronic Books

Electronic books may include books found on personal websites, databases, or even in audio form. Use the following format if the book you are using is only provided in a digital format or is difficult to find in print. If the work is not directly available online or must be purchased, use “Available from,” rather than “Retrieved from,” and point readers to where they can find it. For books available in print form and electronic form, include the publish date in parentheses after the author’s name. For references to e-book editions, be sure to include the type and version of e-book you are referencing (e.g., “[Kindle DX version]”). If DOIs are available, provide them at the end of the reference.

De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo  Indian tales. Retrieved from

Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest.  Available from inkey=1-9780931686108-0

Kindle Books

To cite Kindle (or other e-book formats) you must include the following information: The author, date of publication, title, e-book version, and either the Digital Object Identifer (DOI) number, or the place where you downloaded the book. Please note that the DOI/place of download is used in-place of publisher information. Here’s an example:

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

But, make this one change

From the above citation process you don’t know if the book is a “juried” resource (e.g. has an editorial board, or jury, of scholars that is testifying the material is reliable and valid).  And, in scholarly work (e.g. graduate school, seminaries) you should be using mostly juried sources.  Thus, there is a problem for a couple reasons:

  1. Kindle is not a “juried” publisher.  It takes what all publishers print and converts books to electronic forms, so you do not know if the citation is “juried” by scholars in the field.  And, you won’t know unless you check the printed books publisher.
  2. The Chicago Style Manual (an alternative to APA) solves this by requiring the “City: Publisher, Date” to be included.  See these examples:

Lemon, Rebecca, Emma Mason, Johnathan Roberts, and Christopher Rowland, ed. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. PDF e-book.

Thrall, Grant Ian. Land Use and Urban Form. New York: Methuen, 1987.

Therefore in (research-based) courses, such as seminary courses I teach in the MA, MDiv and DMin degree programs:

ADD the “City: Publisher, Date.” information before “Retrieved from …” or “Available From…”

Here are the above APA citations with this addition (in red for emphasis only):

De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo  Indian tales. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922. Retrieved from

Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest.  Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2006. Available from inkey=1-9780931686108-0

Stoker, B. (1897). Dracula [Kindle DX version]. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Retrieved from

(Remember additions in red are for illustration only – do not use red.)

This short little addition will help you confirm that your eBook citation is “juried” and thus an reliable source for your seminary/graduate school education.

STUDENT SUCCESS & How Do You Cite Yourself?

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/4/15.

A recurring question I receive is “How do you cite yourself.”  This is because in our highly practical courses, my students weekly interview colleagues and non-churchgoers as part of their “Action Research.”

During this exercise students often wonder how and if they should cite themselves, especially if they cite verbatim homework they previous submitted in another course. I suggest they do, because submitting something verbatim in current homework, that came from previous homework for another course, could look like a student is trying to pass something off as new work.  When actually, this is just cut-and-pasting old work.

Now, there is nothing wrong with utilizing old work, as long as it is germane and relevant. But, the key is to let the instructor know (and the reader know) that it was written for a previous assignment.

But, if you are copying something that was written for the current course, just a previous assignment, then you do not need to cite yourself.  However, there are two caveats here:

  • I know your previous homework for this course because I have read it. Thus, you do not need to cite yourself if the homework was for the current course.
  • However, if your appendix is from a previous assignment, even in the current course, I want you to cite it. This is because I want people to see (as well as the student) how each week’s homework has built upon the previous week.

So, here are the APA rules for self-citation.

From a paper you submitted:

Thus, quoting your own previous homework for another course would be similar to quoting from an unpublished dissertation (see )

Lastname, F. N. (Year). Title of paper. (Unpublished master of divinity paper). Name of Institution, Location.

From an online forum or discussion room:

Also, here is how you would quote from an “online forum” or discussion:

From an email or forum posting:

And finally, here is how you would cite an email or personal communication:

STUDENT SUCCESS & Why and How Students Score Better By Using Scholarly Citations

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/28/15.

Students sometimes want to know how to score better, especially regarding citations for the references they are finding.  Let me give you some guidelines that are typical of a graduate school level of research.

Use citations in your papers and postings.

When a professor asks you to research something, make sure you say in your paper or your posting where you found this information.  This means using a citation.  You may even want to practice using APA style to cite your quotes and references for forum postings (where APA is not required).  This can be good practice for developing APA style, and doing so will allow other students to find your resources too.

Use scholarly resources.  

When researching a topic, the student will discover an mind-numbing array of resources: from books, to articles, to blogs to websites. But, often times some comments are just Internet or blog musings by people who are not experts in the field you are investigating. Thus quoting non-experts may proliferate inaccurate knowledge.  Thus, try to use the best resources you can find.  Here is a list of sources, from those which are customarily higher in scholarly reliability to those that are customarily lower:

High Scholarly Reliability (usually)

++ Journal articles

+ Published books

+ Published articles (some newspapers, magazines and online e-zines.)

– Pamphlets

– – Web-sites (except as noted below)

– – – Blogs (except when a blog of a scholar)

– – – – Graffiti 😉

Low Scholarly Reliability (usually)

Still, there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, many websites are certainly scholarly, such as Lifeway Research, Barna Group, American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) and those sponsored by university and/or governmental agencies.

Juried Sources Are Preferred

A little checking on their site will help you discover if they are “juried.” This means there is a “jury” or “editorial board/committee” that has overseen this publication and that the research is reliable and valid.

A Recognized Scholar

Many scholars have published “juried” articles and books, and hence their non-juried blog posts can be considered “juried.”  For instance, my good friend Dr. Ed Stetzer has published many books and articles.  Thus, his blog would be considered scholarly, even though it is not always juried.

I share these guidelines because I know you will want to make the most of your limited research time.  Better information makes for better learning … and better effects for Christ’s Kingdom 🙂

STUDENT SUCCESS & More on How Many Citations Grad Students Should Use (plus APA tips)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/25/15.

A student once asked a germane question about why outside sources are required in graduate school, even for student analysis of their ministry context.  The student asked, “For example: last weeks application paper was about charting and assessing our own church’s organizational history in light of the article you wrote.  My first question is that I need help getting a clearer picture of how these sources are to be used since the issue isn’t so much about what experts are saying, but rather about the matters of fact determined from our organizations history.”

That is a good question. The answer is that every assignment will have a different thrust, but that each assignment must bring you closer to being a “master” of the writings in your chosen graduate field.  As such, each assignment requires you find what other authors/researchers are saying about the topic.  Here are a couple easy ways you can do this.

1.  The topic of one week (the leadership/management of sub-congregations week) was based upon my writings and research on the topic.  But, my article provides you with many footnotes, to help you see what others are saying about this too (and where to find their writings).  So, use the required readings each week as a starting place to follow the footnote trail, or look up the authors who are mentioned, to dig deeper into the subject.

2.  As I mentioned in the earlier posting in this forum titled, “How May Citations Should Graduate Students Use Each Week?” you can use Off Campus Library Services to quickly scan books and articles on these themes.  In addition, you may want to scan articles in related fields.  For instance, when we are discussing organizational behavior, you may want to scan journals on management for the word “church.”

The end result is that the required readings for each assignment are not where you should stop, but they are a jumping off place into more investigation.

The student when on to say, “The other part is that I am finding it difficult to imagine how one crams 5-8 sources in a 300 word paper or even a 500 word paper for that matter.”

The 300 or 500 word paper refers to the body of the paper which is basically your analysis with supporting in-text citations (more on this shortly).  And, APA formatting accommodates this research while keeping the body of the paper concise through several methods.

1.  In-text citations: APA uses parenthetical in-text citations rather than extensive footnotes.  For example you might write, “So you can see that our church is what George Hunter has described as “ a congregation of congregations” (Hunter, 1979, p. 63).”  This brief parenthetical citation is much simpler and faster than creating a footnote.  For examples of in-text citations see this helpful link (which you can link to via the Off Campus Library white button at the top right-hand of each Blackboard page):

2.  Abstract page:  Not all professors require an abstract but I have found that students say they benefit from creating this short overview of their findings (remember this is a concise overview of your key points, including your conclusions).  Therefore I require students create a short abstract.  For examples of abstracts see this link:  The abstract page usually allows you to dispense with an introduction and get right to the meat of your analysis.

3. Appendixes:  Appendixes are a great place to put charts, graphs, interviews, bulleted points, church documents, etc. that otherwise might fill up the body of your paper.  Be sure to reference the source of your appendix material if you did not write it specifically for this paper.  But, appendixes will allow you to put in a great deal of supporting material without filling up the body of your paper (which is where your analysis should be).

I must for students’ sake and the sake of the missio Dei encourage my mentees to reach for the standards of this higher degree. I want to help students expand their knowledge beyond what their textbooks say, and into the research of other leaders and writers … so at graduation I can celebrate with them an attainment of mastery of our important topic of missional leadership.

STUDENT SUCCESS & How Many Citations Should Graduate Students Use in Their Papers?

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/25/15.

The “syllabus” I post for every student says that “graduate school is a research laboratory … (and) you should look up pertinent insights from authors and researchers, applying their insights to your situation.”   Let me explain and give examples for budding, new graduate students.

This statement means you should be reading pertinent sections in your textbooks and in outside sources each week that apply to that week’s topic, and citing them in your postings and papers.  Here is what the syllabus says:

c.   Relevant research – Graduate school is a research laboratory.  There are two ways you will go about this. First, you should look up pertinent insights from authors and researchers, applying their insights to your situation.  You should also suggest to fellow students how the insights you are discovering will help them.  To find these insights, the required textbooks are a good place to start. But, don’t stop there.  Look in books and articles from your personal library, the community library, via online databases (such as those on the IWU Off Campus Library site) and apply the ideas you are discovering to your organization and to the organizations of other students.  Secondly, relevant research means that each week you will be applying the ideas you are discovering to your own organization and reporting back the outcomes.  Thus, your posts will reflect your growing mastery of the field under discussion, including both the literature and personal application.

Students often ask “how many” books should be cited to meet this research expectation.  Therefore to help, I’ve suggested that generally for average work you might cite one to two (1-2) textbooks and two to three (2-3) outside sources in each discussion forum and in each paper.  Above average work might cite two to three (2-3) textbooks and three to five (3-5) outside sources in each discussion forum and each paper.  But, don’t worry too much about this.  It is easy today with the Internet to quickly find sources that will expand your knowledge base.  In fact, the above section on “Relevant research” suggests easy ways to discover useful research.

Therefore, since graduate school is a research environment, you probably should be researching in your textbooks and in other books on the topic for pertinent ideas each week.  You will probably want to quote and cite a few textbooks in each week’s discussions and a few more outside sources too.  And, you should do the same for the end-of-week papers.

Now, you are probably thinking, “can you go into even more detail?”  Let me give you some general parameters that I have noticed that students in the past have tended to utilize.

In forum discussions:

B-level work = the student quotes 1-2 textbooks and 2-3 outside sources in the forum discussions (this means spread among all of the student’s discussions in one week’s forum, the student cites 1-2 textbooks and 2-3 outside sources)

A level work = the student quotes 2-3 textbooks and 3-5 outside sources in the forum discussions.

In application papers:

B-level work = the student quotes 1-2 textbooks and 2-3 outside sources in their application paper.

A level work = the student quotes 2-3 textbooks and 3-5 outside sources in their application paper.

The same books and articles can be used between the forum and the paper. But, they should be relevant quotes.

Thus, start doing a bit of sleuthing in your library, the library of friends, the “Off Campus Library Service” (click on the white button at the top-right of each BlackBoard screen), and on the Internet regarding what other experts are saying about each week’s topic.  Then cite their thoughts in your forum postings, your discussions with others and in your papers.  I want to ensure that you are not just following one way of doing things, but that you are becoming a “master” of the critical topics of church leadership.

STUDENT SUCCESS & Should Graduate School Students Use Citations in Discussion Postings?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min, Ph.D., 8/15/15.

Sometimes students in my courses wonder if they need to use citations with their postings.  Yes you should (it will become easier as you go along) and let me explain why.

Graduate school, such as a seminary, is different from undergraduate work.  In graduate school, unlike undergraduate work, you do what is called: “research.”

The word “research” is a clue that means digging into what scholars say about the topic in addition to what you discover when you apply it.  The idea of research is to not only share your thoughts, but investigate (i.e. explore, examine) what scholars are saying about the subject too.  Thus, this exercise is not simply an assignment to share your thoughts, but also to share your growing understanding of what experts are saying about each forum’s (and paper’s) topic.

To facilitate learning in others (e.g. so they can see where your ideas come from) it is necessary for you to cite where your ideas came from.  This doesn’t have to be too formal (APA is optional in the discussion forums) but you should give other students a location (via a citation) where they can look up the info you cite.  This is standard practice in research.  And, it helps others find the scholarly sources you have uncovered!

Don’t worry, I typically grade leniently until our students get acquainted with what graduate research entails.  And, I know many of you are in graduate school for the first time and thus I will be lenient.  Though fairness dictates you forfeit some points if you are not citing research, I will also give you some ideas on what you can do to improve your score.

As you know, if you follow I will 4-6 times a week I cite here new, exciting and relevant research that I come upon.  And, if you follow this blog, you will get an email everytime I post new research … including a short synopsis.

I am here to help you learn.  And, thus I will always share with you some of ideas to help you generate more research/learning (and more points 🙂

So, if your question is “Do I need to use citations on my discussion postings?” the answer is yes, since this is a graduate school where we are studying “research.”

SCHOLARLY WRITING & Tips for the Wide-eyed & Mystified Graduate School Student

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/17/15.

Seminary writing, as well as graduate school writing, is a bit different from undergraduate writing and even writing for the regular marketplace.

This is because in graduate school you are seeking to obtain a “Master’s degree.” The “master” designation means you have demonstrated to the Academy (i.e. the faculty) that you have “mastered” the subject manner, e.g. have read widely in it and know how to apply it.  Thus, citations show the Academy that you are becoming a master of the material and its application.

To help my students I like to steer them toward a helpful titled, Surviving and Thriving in Seminary: A Practical Guide for the Wide-eyed and Mystified. It is available as a Kindle download for the amazingly low price of $4.99.

I hope this resource further helps you, the reader, adjust to your new scholarly and practical journey into missional leadership.

Chapter Ten, “Researching and Writing Essays” has some very helpful advice:

I have a simple source rule that I teach my students that if you follow will enable you to produce quality work.  The rule is 1 source per page +1. What this means is that for a 10-page paper, aim for at minimum 11 sources. For a 20-page paper, aim for at minimum 21 resources. Aiming for this number of quality resources and actually making use of them will signal to your professor that you took the time to find an adequate number of resources to research your topic.

In observing this rule for class essays, try and keep this mind: make 1/ 3 of your resources academic journal articles. Although they are not best-sellers nor are they widely read, academic journals is where the latest research first gets published in academia. That research (some, not all) then makes its way into books and book chapters— often many years later. So when you use journal articles for your research, you signal to your professor that you are engaging in the latest discussion on the matter at hand. (Kindle Locations 867-871)

Later in the chapter Zacharias offers some more helpful insights:

If you are researching a particular topic and already have either a book or a book chapter that covers the topic, then the bibliography and footnotes of these resources will provide you with a wealth of possible resources. Like the above methods, you will need to judge for yourself based on the title if the source is worth your time (see the Reading chapter for more on this).

If your bibliography is still thin for your essay, ATLA is the place to go. ATLA was covered in the Skills chapter (including the bonus video). Getting the Resources Getting a list of resources is only half of the battle— you still need to go and actually collect them. This is where your library skills will come into play. If you have not yet followed my advice and received a tutorial from your library, I strongly suggest you do that. You will need to tap into your library’s online catalogue as well as ATLA Serials to determine if your library has the resource, and if not, then how to attain it. (Kindle Location 911)

And, the book includes a helpful video.  I cannot say enough good things about the video.  When you buy the book it includes a link to a video that demonstrates how to do an ATLA search.  Here is how one student described the book:

“This little gem of a book is filled with some great pointers like this one: ‘Remember that as you enter your studies, you are meeting and rubbing shoulders with people that are already on the same team as you. You are not entering a competitive business school where one-upmanship may ensure you securing a limited pool of jobs. You are not in the rat race of private-sector work— you are a fellow builder of God’s kingdom. You and your fellow students are in this together. Their success is your success.’ (Kindle Locations 218-221).

The bonus video and the chapters on reading and writing are helpful for not only any current assignments, but also for the duration of your seminary journey.

Zacharias, D. (2013). Surviving and thriving in seminary: a practical guide for the wide-eyed and mystified. Kindle: Danny Zacharias