During my final school year, I was studying in an American High School. Even though I was an exchange student, I still had to write a graduate paper as the main assignment for the English language course since it was the requirement for all senior students at school. That was the first time I was introduced to referencing and citing sources in a proper way. Our teacher provided us with many printed pages of the guidelines to using MLA style in academic writing that became our ‘bible’ for the whole semester.
For me it was difficult to understand why people need to spend so much time on the format, the structure, and especially the reference list of the paper if the main thing is the content of the piece of writing. The ‘enlightenment’ came when I started looking for the sources. The proper structure and the uniform style of other scholarly works has saved my time in the process of searching for resources for writing my paper. Also, organizing the paper in an academic way has developed my logic and analytical skills. Now, every time I write an essay or a paper I think about the logical structure and the proper organization. Furthermore, remembering about giving credit to other authors in the correct way all the time has increased the level of responsibility for all the actions I take no matter whether it is about my studies or work.
As a graduate student at GSE, I have learned how to use APA style in academic writing. At the very beginning of my first year of studies, I struggled a lot with citing secondary sources and those that lacked some important information such as the author’s name, date, page numbers, etc. There were cases when I even had to give up on a very good source only because I was not sure whether I was citing it correctly or not. It seems to me that too much attention is given to all those commas, brackets, cursive, etc. As for me, it would be much better if it were enough to cite a source just by providing a link to it. It is obvious that such suggestion can refer to electronic sources only. However, even this little improvement could save a lot of time and make the life of students easier.
When it comes to my own tips of citing and referencing, I would suggest using www.googlescholar.com. This tool provides you with a full reference at one click. Moreover, it has options for referencing in various styles of academic writing. However, you should not rely on it all the time. It is more secure to check with a credible manual when time allows.