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Citing Sources

Referencing, avoiding plagiarism, and presentation of the Chicago Style

What Should a Citation Contain?

A proper citation should allow a source to be identified without ambiguity. It should therefore include all essential metadata, including the title of the work, the name(s) of the author(s) (which may be individuals or organisations), and the date of the work. These metadata are different for each type of document (book, journal article, report, image...). A detailed description of the necessary and less necessary metadata can be found in this document from the EPFL library. The original French version is more complete.

Readers should also be able to easily locate the document if they wish to consult it.

Documents under a Creative Commons licence must also be correctly attributed.

Citation Styles

There are thousands of different styles. The styles used in the fields studied at the Graduate Institute fall into two main categories:

  • author-date styles: in-text citations take the following form (author, date)
  • note styles: citations appear in footnotes, and may be abbreviated or in full.

In both cases, there is also a reference list at the end of the text, which lists all the references that appear in the text in alphabetical order.

The remaining pages of this guide will introduce the Chicago style, a style commonly used at the Graduate Institute.

Law students should use specific legal styles. Our Legal Citation guide outlines the main features of 3 of these.

In all cases, students should consult their supervisor before choosing a style.

Some computer programs, called citation managers, allow you to automate the citation process and are very useful. Training sessions on how to use one of these programs, Zotero, are held regularly at the Institute. An online guide to Zotero is also available