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Demonstrating Academic Integrity

1. When to Cite

There are two basic rules:

1) If you directly use someone else′ s words, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference.

2) Give a complete reference if you use someone else's:

  • Idea, theory or opinion
  • Music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic or technical work
  • Tables, graphs or any other graphic element
  • Facts and information that are not generally known
  • Unusual or distinctive phrases, specialized terms, computer codes, quantitative data
  • Spoken or written words


1.1. Sources That Do Not Need to be Referenced

Your own ideas do not have to be referenced. Anything that you conclude from your research or that you think up on your own counts as your own idea. The exception to this is work that you have previously submitted in any course in the past. This must be referenced like any other source.

If your idea is similar to another author's, make it clear in your writing that you thought of this idea on your own, but you later discovered it in another source (example: "Similar conclusions are found in.")

Common knowledge does not have to be referenced. If the information meets the following criteria, it can usually be considered common knowledge:

  • It appears in several sources without reference.
  • It is not controversial. This means the information is generally considered as fact. (i.e. The earth orbits around the Sun)
  • If it is part of your thesis or main arguments, or it is the basis of your research, it must be referenced. If you have any doubts as to whether the information constitutes common knowledge, cite the source or consult your professor.

1.2. Incorporating Another Person's Ideas or Words

Direct Quotation: When incorporating another person's exact words into your work use a direct quotation. Be sure to place an opening quotation (“) when beginning the quote and a closing quotation (”) when ending the quote.

Paraphrasing or Summarizing: A paraphrase or summary uses your own words and sentence structure to explain someone else's idea or information obtained from another source (see example). You do not need to use quotation marks, however, you must acknowledge the originating source in your work with a citation. Failing to acknowledge a paraphrase implies that the writing represents your own original idea.


Next Topic: Referencing Styles