To document is to give credit to outside sources.
Failure to document results in plagiarizing, which is literary theft. This is covered in detail in “Paper Chase.”
You must document or credit any information you pick up that's not common knowledge. Usually, this is done in footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, and Works Cited pages.
Of course, life would be too easy if every field used the same method of documentation. No, different fields of study embrace their method of documentation with all the passion of newlyweds. And like the ad wars, each curricula is stalwart in its defense of its own method of documentation. The “tastes great/less filling” argument has been replaced with “easy to use/gives a more complete citation” debate. Here's a list of the standard documentation reference guides in major fields:
|Area of Study||Documentation Method|
|Biology||Council of Biology Editors. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.|
|Business Publishing||Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.|
|Chemistry||American Chemical Society. The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors. Washington: ACS, 1985.|
|Engineering||Michaelson, Herbert B. How to Write and Publish Engineering Papers and Reports. Phoenix: Oryx, 1990.|
|English||Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association, 1999.|
|Geology||United States Geological Survey. Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey. Washington, GPO, 1991.|
|Government||Government Printing Office. Style Manual. Rev. ed. Washington: GPO, 1984.|
|Law||The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. Comp. Editors of Columbia Law review, et al. Cambridge: Harvard Law Review, 1991.|
|Linguistics||Linguistic Society of America. LSA Bulletin. December issue, annually.|
|Mathematics||American Mathematical Society. A Manual for Authors of Mathematical Papers. Providence: AMS, 1990.|
|Medicine||Iverson, Cheryl, et. al. American Medical Association Manual of Style. Baltimore: Williams, 1989.|
|Music||Holoman, D. Kern, ed. Writing About Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of 19th Century Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.|
|Physics||American Institute of Physics. AIP Style Manual. New York: AIP, 1990.|
|Psychology||American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington: APA, 1994.|
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.