In most fields of research, academic conventions and copyright rules require the proper documentation of scholarly borrowings by means of proper referencing and citations, but these conventions vary because of the different characteristics of scholarly disciplines. The MLA style, in particular, is generally used among the several fields in the humanities, especially in literature and the languages, philosophy, and the liberal and fine arts. The general guidelines prescribed by the MLA style are considered to be generally simpler and more succinct than other citation styles, such as the APA. For example, the MLA format’s works cited page highlights brief in-text or parenthetical citations, as opposed to lengthier entries.
Established and developed by the Modern Language Association, the MLA style is recognized by academic institutions throughout the world. It has been widely adopted and extensively used by several academic institutions, colleges, and universities for their writing and research tasks. Additionally, the MLA general guidelines, which are briefly discussed below, are being applied to thousands of scholarly and literary journals, newsletters, and magazines, and are being used by a number of print media companies and publishing houses.
In the MLA style, citations are included in research papers to identify the original source and are placed at the works cited page. A typical citation entry includes the name of the author of a particular work, the complete title of the article or work, the year of publication, and the publisher and its location. Titles are underlined rather than italicized, and the names of the authors are always provided in full, starting with the last name. Below is a brief list of citation examples demonstrating the MLA format, and it demonstrates how your works cited page should look like:
Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot. New York: Random House, 1985.
Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969.
Edelson, Marshall. Language and the Interpretation of Psychoanalysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.
Grunberger, Bela. Narcissism: Psychoanalytic Essays. New York: International Universities Press, 1979.
Holland, Norman. The Dynamics of Literary Response. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
For in-text citations, a reference is always enclosed within parentheses and is placed as close as possible to its source, for example, immediately after a paraphrase, a direct quote, or a summary. In-text citations are usually placed where a pause would naturally occur, preferably at the end of a sentence, for example:
“Critical theory must recognize that the materiality and the particularity of the signifier are crucial in the self’s anchoring and its splitting – and in its transformations. Lacan’s examples of the role of language in the unconscious repeatedly call attention to punning, homophony, and lexical allusion.” (Alcorn 83).
As shown in the example, only the last name of the author and the page number from which the quote is taken are placed within the parentheses. The citation accompanies, not repeats, the text given in the quote. It does not need to be repeated in the quote.
The MLA format also recommends the use of MLA headings to improve the readability and organization of a research paper. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay, for example:
1. Introduction to Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism
2. Self-Structure as a Rhetorical Device
3. Character, Plot, and Imagery
4. Language and the Substance of the Self: A Lacanian Perspective