Using sources

    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
    • Books
    • Websites
    • Governmental and business reports
    • Interview data
    • Legislation
    • Archival sources
    • Artworks
    • Music
    • Procedures and guidelines

    You might use these sources to gather:

    • ideas
    • words and sentences
    • images
    • data
    • graphs and figures
    • tables.

    There are three main ways to use information from written or spoken sources: in a summary, quotation, or paraphrase.