Thus Saith the Prof
We receive many questions regarding how to cite in-class material, whether a comment your professor made or a class handout. One of our Writing Experts, Mr. Michael Woodall, has put together this helpful guide! Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions that go unanswered.
"Thus Saith the Prof"
Have you ever heard something in a class lecture that blew your mind, so much so that you wanted to refer to it in one of your papers? (After all, you are at Southern Seminary, with a remarkable faculty. They speak, and with authority!) So, you found yourself at a loss for what to do?
Consequently, when it comes to using the material, you’re faced with an apparent dilemma. On the one hand, of course, you want to avoid plagiarizing your prof. Thus, you must give him appropriate credit. Yet, on the other hand, you don’t want to “take his name in vain,” misrepresenting their position. Nevertheless, you deem the information useful and supportive of your own arguments, so much so that you just can’t do without including it. Therefore, you wish to reference it meaningfully and correctly in your work.
Occasionally at the Writing Center, we encounter students who are unsure how to cite in their papers something that a professor proposed in a class lecture. That being the case, we offer a simple solution—until our age (or institution) decides otherwise.
WHAT HE SAID.
In short, we typically point students to the basic format for citing an academic paper. Thus, you’ll want to cite your professor in your footnote and bibliography in one of the following ways:
1Daniel I. Block, “The Deuteronomic Torah: A Call for Responsible and Compassionate Patricentrism” (paper presented at the annual meeting for the Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, Georgia, November 17–19, 2015).
2Block, "The Deuteronomic Torah."
Block, Daniel I. “The Deuteronomic Torah: A Call for Responsible and Compassionate Patricentrism.” Paper presented at the annual meeting for the Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, Georgia, November 17–19, 2015.
1Douglas K. Blount, “The Word Enfleshed by Oliver Crisp” (class lecture presented at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, June 15, 2017).
2Blount, "Word Enfleshed."
Blount, Douglas K. “The Word Enfleshed by Oliver Crisp.” Class lecture presented at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, June 15, 2017.
Keep in mind that your professor may have manuscript notes for her lecture. So, you’ll want to you ask her to see if you can obtain those and thus duly quote her. If so, follow the print material form.
CITE IT BUT DON’T QUOTE IT!
But what if he doesn’t have manuscript notes for his lecture? Furthermore, his material is not published or in print at all. Therefore, if the professor’s material (lecture, sermon, discussion after class, etc.) does not have a printed transcript, CITE IT BUT DON’T QUOTE IT.
YOU CAN QUOTE ME ON THAT!
Still, your professor may have such a manuscript. In fact, it may appear in a printed publication such as a book or journal article. In that case, you may do better to present the quotation and cite the printed source.
IN THE CITE OF EVERYONE
Again, you want your reader to be completely confident of two things:
- You’re accurately representing (and not misrepresenting) a scholar’s view(s);
- The material should, in fact, be credited to your professor.
Anything less amounts to a “literary transgression.” It may not be the “unpardonable sin,” but it is terrible scholarship nonetheless. You may damage the reputation of your prof as well as your own. Don’t do it. Just don’t. “On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:2).
Okay, let’s be positive again. Your professor has valuable insights. Great! Utilize them. Check if she is in print with the material, either published or in manuscript lecture notes. If she’s in print, cite and quote her. If not, then cite, but do not quote. Yet, do everything accurately and clearly. In this way, you will avoid “misusing” people’s material and names.
And so, that is how you observe “Thus saith the prof.” Now, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear . . . and properly cite.”
For further help with this format and others, see:
- SBTS Turabian Quick Guide
- Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013), 144-215.