Referencing is about acknowledging other people's thoughts, ideas, theories or data. There are generally three types of information in your work:
- someone else's material: this requires a reference
- your own ideas: these do not require references
- common knowledge: this does not require a reference.
Using the work of others, so long as it is acknowledged, is an accepted and required practice in the academic community. If you don't provide a citation in your work, it will be assumed that what you have written is your own idea and/or common knowledge. Your opinions, experimental results, experiences or thoughts can be considered your own ideas. However, ideas don't often occur in a vacuum and if it's inspired or influenced by others, you should always provide a reference.
Sources are wide and varied, and scholars from different disciplines prefer certain sources over others. Sources might include:
- Journal articles
- Governmental and business reports
- Interview data
- Archival sources
- Procedures and guidelines
You might use these sources to gather:
- words and sentences
- graphs and figures
There are three main ways to use information from written or spoken sources: in a summary, quotation, or paraphrase.