• Chris Ireland

What assignment feedback will you get? (Part 2: citing the correct name)

'Citing the correct name' is a special feedback item because it would almost never be given to a student who speaks English as their first language. In fact, this item is most commonly found on feedback given on assignments written by Chinese students. So if you have feedback which says, "Wrong name" or "Is this the correct name?" then it means that you have probably chosen the given name of the author when you need to use the surname (family name). It is very important that you cite the correct name (surname). If you don't get it right and you cite the given name then this can be very distracting for your lecturer when they are reading your assignment. When you want them to focus on the content of your writing they are focussed on the mistake you have made with the name in the citation. This will also cause them difficulty if they want to check the source and will probably mean they are not able to find it.

So if I am reading an assignment and I see, "Bob (2015) says ..." or "... (Rachel, 2016, p.45)" then I am fairly certain that the students has used the wrong name for the citation; these would be very unusual surnames. However, there are also plenty of names that might not be so clear. So, in some cases common given names might also be common surnames. Some examples of such names are Norman, Leigh, Penny and Ali. In these cases, when I'm reading your assignment I might assume that you have the correct name but then if I see more examples I would probably be right to assume you had chosen the wrong name. Then in some rare examples you may have used a source where even a native speaker, if they do not take care, might make a mistake. So If the author has two names and these names are Leigh and Penny, how do I know which name is the surname (family name)?

You have probably learned that the surname is the last name and if you see the name written as "Leigh Penny" then you would be correct to assume that the surname is Penny and that this is the name you would cite. However, with the addition of a comma everything changes! "Leigh, Penny" is a different person. The addition of a comma after the name that appears first means that this is the surname and that this is the name you need to cite in your assignment. So in the case of "Leigh, Penny" you would cite Leigh.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the feedback items we have selected for these short blogs are based on how often they are given to students and how often the screencasts are accessed. This short screencast has proven to be one of the most popular over the past few years.

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