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Library Training and Workshops

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Reference Chapter

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald. “Incorporating Sources.” In The Craft of Research, 4th ed., 200–213. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Reference Chapter

Davies, Martin, "Plagiarism and Paraphrasing" in Study Skills for International Postgraduates, 2nd ed., Bloomsbury, 2022, p. 83-104.

Slides of the Citation Plagiarism Presentation

Citing is Essential

Citing sources correctly is essential in academic writing for several reasons:

  • Because all students and researchers are "standing on the shoulders of giants". Research is a cumulative process, and knowing the sources used during the research is necessary to understand and evaluate the resulting work. It also makes your paper or dissertation more reliable.
  • Correct citation allows a clear understanding of what comes from the sources used in the writing process and what is the author's personal contribution.
  • All sources must be cited, including visual, audio or social media material, and information freely available online.
  • Give proper credit: citation is the cornerstone of academic writing. Failure to properly acknowledge the authors of the works used in research is considered a serious breach of academic ethics. It can also provide the reader with an opportunity to discover new sources.
  • Copyright: quotation is one of the three exceptions to copyright in Swiss law, provided that the source is properly acknowledged. Failure to cite properly is also against the law.

Summarising, Paraphrasing, Quoting

Quoting means quoting the author verbatim, that is to say, without changing anything in the text. Any minor change in the text must be put inside square brackets [...]. If you omit a part of the text (ellipsis), this must also be indicated by three dots inside square brackets [...], and the ellipsis must not change the meaning of the text.  If you decide to underline a part of the quotation or to bold or italicise some words, this should also be indicated ("emphasis by author"). And of course, the quotation itself must be enclosed in quotation marks.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else's ideas into your own words. It does not mean simply replacing a few words with synonyms. It is generally recommended to change the structure of the text. Of course, the author and the source must be correctly referenced.

It can be difficult to tell whether a paraphrase is too close to the original text or not. This video gives an example of a good paraphrase.

To summarise, you must shorten the original text, keeping only the main points, in your own words, and, of course, the source must be correctly referenced, and the author's thought must not be misrepresented.

  • "Summarise when details are irrelevant or a source is not important enough to warrant much space.
  • Paraphrase when you can state what a source says more clearly or concisely or when your argument depends on the details in a source but not on its specific words.
  • Quote for these purposes:
    • The words themselves are evidence that backs up your reasons
    • The words are from an authority who backs up your claims
    • The words are strikingly original or express your key concepts so compellingly that the quotation can frame an extended discussion
    • A passage states a view that you disagree with, and to be fair you want to state it exactly."
      (Booth et al., p. 200, full reference at left).

Whether you quote, summarise or paraphrase, you must always cite the source, giving all the necessary metadata. And you must, of course, take care not to misrepresent the author's argument.