Simplifying Citation with a Click in the Browser

Photo: Student using EasyBib for citation

Student using EasyBib website for citation

This is the fourth installment in the series Exploring Useful Browser Extensions. Previous tools highlighted in the series include The Great SuspenderClearly, and Announcify.

In the academic world, there has always been a premium placed on citation and attribution of sources. With the enormous volume of information made available in a digital environment, these reference points become even more important, going a long way toward establishing credibility, strengthening claims, and of course avoiding plagiarism.

Ultimately, being transparent about sources is being a decent person, honoring the work of others, while participating in a much wider conversation.

There are all kinds of tools available to make citation and attribution an easy and painless process. In fact, so simple are many options that not providing proper citation or attribution looks even more suspect.

One clever browser based solution for quick and easy citation and attribution is EasyBib Tools. EasyBib has long been a website that many students have used to generate citations for use in bibliographies and works cited pages. However, there are a number of ways to expand and increase its usefulness.

Image: EasyBib Tools, a Google Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store

EasyBib Tools, a Google Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store

Once the Chrome extension is installed, its primary benefit is jump starting the citation process. Selecting Cite on EasyBib will automatically extract as much citation information as possible from the webpage in focus, displaying that information in a fillable form inside a new, smaller window that launches to the front of the screen.

The amount of information prepared in the fillable form is entirely dependent on how well the webpage in focus was structured. Consequently, there may be missing information that needs to be added prior to creating a useful and accurate citation.

Clicking the Crate Citation button at the bottom of the form will process the information into a proper MLA citation and save it to a bibliography page, easily accessible through an EasyBib account. Even without an EasyBib account, the bibliography will be temporarily saved for three days, and is also available via the new button added to the browser toolbar.

The browser extension EasyBib Tools offers a couple of key benefits for teachers and students. Like EasyBib’s main site, it takes the guesswork out of the Modern Language Association (MLA) format, such as whether a period or comma goes after the author’s name in a citation. Making sure the information is added in the form correctly assures that the formatting will be correct.

Working while logged into an EasyBib account also removes a lot of the organizational demands of compiling and tracking individual resources and their citations. The tool collects and organizes by default. Plus, everything is in an easy system, shareable with any word processing application.

Interestingly, rolling a mouse over the EasyBib Tools button flashes a tip “Click to see if this source is credible.” Using this option will display a basic evaluation, suggesting whether the site is credible or has not yet been evaluated. If the site has not been evaluated, clicking will open a tab with a quick tutorial about determining credibility of webpages is available, highlighting features to look for on a number of different kind of webpages.

At present, EasyBib Tools is only available as a Chrome extension. So users of other browsers have to resort to their website alone and some extra steps to make citation easier. Still, being a browser extension means it works on the Macbook Airs in use at the high school or Chromebooks in use at the middle school, as well as many bring-your-own-devices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *