KnightCite Hekman Library
Calvin College
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Preface/Foreword
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Author & Editor
Author & Translator
Organization & Editor
Periodical
Journal
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Multimedia
Art or Photograph
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Communication
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Website Document

About KnightCite: A Dedication


An In-Depth Look into the KnightCite Citation Service

At a Glance:

What is KnightCite?

Compiled by Karen Jackson, KnightCite user and Class of 2009

KnightCite is an online citation generator service provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College. This service simplifies the often tedious task of compiling an accurate bibliography in the appropriate style by formatting the given data on a source into a reliable citation, eliminating the need to memorize minute details of style for multiple kinds of sources. The service is provided free of charge by the college, and is available to members both within and outside of the Calvin community. There is no advertising on the site, and those who choose to register on the site will have the option of saving all of their citations and even multiple bibliographies to their account.

While there are currently several other citation services available on the web (some for free and others available at a cost), KnightCite was created in 2004 when comparably free and powerful enough tools were not available. The creators of KnightCite chose to develop a program for Calvin that could ensure both relevant and highly accurate results. Greg Sennema, a digital resource librarian at Calvin, explained:

the idea of a citation generator was initially considered as a response to the complexity of properly citing electronic resources, particularly full-text articles found in the library's subscription research databases, but generally to all types of citations....4
Thus, KnightCite was intended to be an up-to-date tool able to quickly generate citations for increasingly used electronic resources such as scholarly articles from a database. KnightCite is unique in that it can generate citations for the three main academic citation styles: Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), or Chicago Manual of Style. Print or electronic resources may be cited, as well as a wide variety of others (particularly in the MLA style) ranging from sacred texts to cartoons. Users may save all of their citations for a given project and instantly alphabetize or edit them. Citations in one bibliography can be copied into another. When a bibliography is complete, the program can export it into an rtf or word document with the appropriate format and hanging indents so it is ready to print. These features are easy-to use and accurate, so students can quickly create a bibliography page without worrying about points being marked off for syntactical details.

Increasing numbers of library and university websites have listed KnightCite as a useful bibliographic tool. The resource was profiled in the Grand Rapids Press, and has been advertised by the college to the greater public. The ultimate mission of this tool has been to provide students and faculty with a quick and simple means of citing resources with great academic accuracy and honesty. Justin Searls, the creator of KnightCite, commented:

My only hope is that students will be able to write more complete citations by being prompted to give the information they need for a full citation, and be able to have a quick and easy interface to do that and get it done on a platform where they can generate this information quickly.4

Glenn Remelts, library director at Calvin College, summarizes the aim of KnightCite well: "This is just our gift to the struggling students who've probably spent more time formatting their bibliographies than writing their papers."2

Features At a Glance

FeatureStandard UserRegistered User
Formats in MLA, APA and Chicago styles
Cite both electronic and print sources
Easy-to-use interface for inputting citation information
Copy/Paste formatted citation into a text editor or citation manager
Link to the full-text article of a citation if your institution supports it
Save citations for later use 
Edit previously saved citations 
Manage multiple "Papers" as collections of citations 
Alphabetize citations in a paper 
"Tweak" citation formatting in exception cases 
Export citations or the entire "Paper" directly to a MS Word or RTF document 

Registration is easy and free. Register now!

A Quick Tour

To create a citation using KnightCite visit http://www.calvin.edu/library/knightcite/. Begin by selecting the desired citation style on the left-hand side of the page: Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), or Chicago Manual of Style. Beneath this, the user may indicate whether the resource is in print or electronic form. Then identify the specific type of resource being cited. KnightCite can create citations for resources that fall under the category of book, anthology, periodical, or website for each style. Multimedia and communication resources may also be cited in the MLA style.

At this point the user will be ready to enter the specific information on the source to be included in the citation. A basic book, for example, will have a drop down box so the user can specify whether the book was compiled by an author, editor, translator, or organization. If there are multiple authors or editors, click the symbol to add boxes in which to enter their names. Enter the author's (or editor etc.) name, book title, edition or volume, publishing company, publishing city and the state if the city is not well known, and the year published. This information can be located on the book's title page (not the cover). Click submit, and the citation will appear with all of the information, punctuation, and underlining/italicizing in the correct place. The citation can be instantly copied and pasted into a works cited page. This process takes less time than looking up the appropriate citation guidelines in a reference manual and plugging the information into the correct format on one's own.

Users who desire to save multiple citations and bibliographies on the website will need to register first. Registering simply allows users to privately save and access data. Click on the registration link and enter your name, requested username, email address, preferred citation style (if any), and password. A confirmation email will be sent with a link to allow the new user to log in.

Registered users who utilize the "manage citations" tab have the option to alphabetize, tweak, and export their citations.
Once logged in, the following tabs will be available: make citation, manage citations, manage papers, settings, and log out. When a new citation is made users have the option of saving it in a new or old paper. To create a new paper, simply provide a title and a bibliography can be quickly and accurately compiled. The manage citations tab brings up all citations under their respective paper names. Citations can be alphabetized, or rearranged using arrows. New citations can be added to these papers and present ones may be edited or deleted. The tweak option allows users to edit the actual text of any saved citation rather than just the individual variables. When the bibliography is finished use the export option to transfer the completed list into an rtf or word document and it will be ready to print and hand in. The manage papers tab allows users to rename, delete, organize, and create new papers. The settings option is for editing registration information.

History of the Project

Calvin College digital librarian Greg Sennema had the idea of creating a program for the college that would assist students in quickly creating accurate bibliographies in the main citation styles. Justin Searls, the programmer and creator of KnightCite, was a sophomore at Calvin College working as a student intern for the Teaching and Learning Digital Studio when he was asked to undertake this project with the guidance of his supervisor John Niedzielski, a teaching and learning multimedia specialist.3 The creation of KnightCite was supported by Calvin's ALIVE (Advanced Learning in Virtual Environments) program, which promotes the creation of virtual learning experiences by providing ALIVE project teams with training and funding. With the help of ALIVE and his supervisors, Justin spent most of his summer creating the complicated program.4 Justin explains that "there are a lot of details with citations... so for the code in KnightCite I had to take into account lots of possibilities."3 The project was a success, however, and KnightCite was launched in August of 2004 powered by over 12,000 lines of code. The tool was quick to receive public attention, and since its release the resource has produced millions of citations for students all over the country. With features allowing users to save bibliographies to the website, the program continues to be a blessing to writers of research papers.

Justin graduated from Michigan's Saline high school in 2003. He acquired his computer programming skills by completing computer exercises and reading free programming tutorials.1 Justin was unsure if he had the experience to complete such a large project, but says "I knew that if I pulled it off, people would enjoy and use it. I just didn't think I knew enough about Web design, programming and - least of all - citations themselves to produce something half as useful as I hoped."1 Justin graduated in 2006 with degrees in computer science and Japanese.

"The point of citing your sources is to create a map for anyone who would want to find the same sources you used in your own research," explained Justin.1 Unfortunately, the great amount of time often required to format bibliographies elicits the temptation to turn in half-finished or even plagiarized work. With KnightCite, however, students can quickly produce reliable citations, giving them more time to polish their work. Student responses to KnightCite have been positive. Lauren Glasser, a student from George Washington University said:

I think the site is a great reference tool to have, especially when you're writing long involved papers that need to be cited properly. I usually use some form of reference book, which stresses me out all the time. My high school paid for a Web site membership to do bibliographies - kind of like this one - which was a huge help.2

Calvin students agree that KnightCite saves time and helps them understand the differences in format between citation styles. Calvin freshman Cheryl Brown stated:
I have English 101 next semester. Since it has different versions of the bibliography and some profs want different things, it's gonna cut down on time. I think it'll be easier once you type your information in to see the structure and fit everything in and really figure out which structure is which form. So even though you're not doing all of the hard work you still see the end result and it'll click.

References and Links

Citations created using KnightCite

Bomey, Nathan . "Saline Grad's Web Creation Draws Online Visitors." Saline Reporter. 27 Jan. 2005. Heritage Newspapers. 2 July 2007 <http://archives.heritage.com/sr/20050127/R11INAB.htm>.

Kafanov, Lucy. "Web Site Formats Citations for Students Free of Charge." The BG News. 14 Feb. 2005. CollegePublishers Network. 2 July 2007 <http://media.www.bgnews.com/media/storage/paper883/news/2005/02/14/Campus/Web-Site.Formats.Citations.For.Students.Free.Of.Charge-1294318.shtml>.

"Need a Bibliography? Check out KnightCite." News and Media Relations. 10 Dec. 2004. Calvin College. 2 July 2007 <http://www.calvin.edu/news/releases/2004_05/knightcite.htm>.

Yaa Dodi, Nana . "Site Makes Citations a Breeze." Chimes. 24 Sep. 2004. Calvin College. 2 July 2007 <http://www-stu.calvin.edu/chimes/index.php?section=58>.

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Brought to you by Calvin College Admissions