Why should I reference my sources so meticulously?
If you do not refer to your sources properly, this constitutes plagiarism, a
particular form of fraud. There are four reasons why you should refer to
your sources meticulously:
Fraud in your education: you get a grade for someone else's work
Intellectual property rights: you take what is not yours.
Controlability of your information to the reader
Recognition for the original work, i.e. an informal reward for researchers.
OK, so how meticulous should I be?
Always reference whatever source you use. This is very
important. If you use a sentence, even a fragment of a sentence, from
another source without quotation marks and a source, then this constitutes
plagiarism, a serious infringement of academic and sometimes even legal
Parts of sentences
can be included in the text, in quotation marks. Longer pieces should be
clearly separated from the main text, for example with an increased indent
and quotation marks. Even if you paraphrase what you
find, you still need to add the source. All of these should be followed by
sources. As a general rule: when in doubt, reference.
Nowadays, plagiarism checks are fairly easy.
Every paper students hand in, can be easily checked
electronic databases. So don't plagiarise, it's not worth the risk.
Sample longer quotation
In policy analysis, it is important to think
about problem definitions:
“Usually, (...) your
problem definitions comes from your client and derives from the ordinary
language of debate and discussion in the client´s political enviroment.”
(Bardach 2000, p. 1)
Sample short quotation
Bardach states that “problem definitions
come from your client (...) and discussion (...) [in its] political
environment” (Bardach 2000, p.1).
(Note how you can shorten the
quote with (...) and make the quote fit gramatically with straight
brackets. Straight brackets are a conventional mark of author
intervention. Obviously, you cannot change the meaning by doing this.)
Sample paraphrased reference
Bardach claims that problem definitions originate with the client and the
political discussions she is engaged in (Bardach 2000, p.1).
In each case, the reference
Bardach, E. (2000). A practical guide for
policy analysis: the eightfold path to more effective problem solving. New
York: Chatham House Publishers.
How do I manage this?
Referencing is not
something you should worry about at the very end, when you write up your
report, but already in the very beginning of your work, when you are
starting to collect information. Make sure you keep track of the source of
all the information you want to use in your report or paper. The easiest
way to do this, is to make sure the source is clearly indicated on your
For example: if you keep
written notes, you can put the source on top of your page and the page
numbers in the left margin. In your notes, you should mark the status of
what you write down: is it a quote (use quotation marks), a summary of the
argument, or a thought you had while reading (e.g. put those in [straight
brackets]). This will make referencing later a lot easier and avoid
A good researcher creates
a paper trail from published papers all the way back to original sources,
whether these involve experimental results, interviews, or research
results found in other published material. It is a bit like a forensic
scientists, who keeps a label on every trace found at a crime scene. Once
this becomes a habit, it is no longer a nuisance, but becomes part of the
way you organise and manage your information.