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Citing Sources

Referencing, avoiding plagiarism, and presentation of the Chicago Style

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, knowing the sources used during the research is necessary to understand and assess the resulting work. It will also make your paper or thesis more reliable.
  • Correct citation allows understanding clearly what comes from the sources used during the writing process and what is the personal contribution of the author.
  • All sources need to be cited, including visual, audio or social media material, and information available free online.
  • Giving due credit: citation is the cornerstone of academic writing. Not giving appropriate credit to the authors of the works used during the research is regarded as a serious breach of academic ethics. It can also give the reader the opportunity to discover new sources.
  • Copyright: quotation is one of the three exceptions to copyright in Swiss law, provided that the source is indicated correctly. Failing to quote appropriately is also violating the law.

Summarising, Paraphrasing, Quoting

Quoting means citing 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 (ellipse), it must also be indicated by three dots inside square brackets [...], and the ellipse should not change the meaning of the text.  If you decide to underline a part of the citation or put some words in bold or italic letters, it should also be indicated ("emphasis by author"). And of course, the citation itself must be put in inverted commas.

Paraphrasing means restating the ideas of someone else in your own words. It does not mean just 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 know whether a paraphrase is too close to the original text or not. This short video gives an example of good paraphrasing.

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

  • "Summarize 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 on the 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.