Accessible version | Skip to content | Change your text size

Table of contents

Previous pageNext page

Citing your sources

Citations indicate to your reader where you have drawn on sources (articles, books, reports, etc) for the information, evidence or viewpoints in your essay.

A citation can focus on the information or on the author

Information citation – This occurs where a general comment, research finding or piece of information is the subject of the sentence. In academic writing in the sciences, it is the commonest way to cite sources. Information citations can also be found in introductions to new topics or sections in any academic discipline.

For example:

Information citation examples
The practice of medicine is an ancient profession (Smith 2002). Harvard Style
The practice of medicine is an ancient profession (1). Vancouver Style
In several studies conducted on dietary factors affecting the incidence of depression, a link has been noted between healthy diet and emotional well-being (Henderson 1999; Jones 2002; Fry 2004). Harvard Style
In several studies (3, 5, 9) conducted on dietary factors affecting the incidence of depression, a link has been noted between healthy diet and emotional well-being. Vancouver Style

Author citation – These are often used following an 'information citation'. The author's name forms the subject of the sentence. For example:

For example:

Author citation examples
According to Smith (2002) the practice of medicine is an ancient profession. Harvard Style
Smith (1) argues that the practice of medicine is an ancient profession. Vancouver Style
Henderson (1999) conducted a series of research studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression. Harvard Style
Henderson (1) conducted a series of research studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression. Vancouver Style

As you read more and your academic writing develops, you will be able to map the thinking that has been done on a particular topic and show connections or disagreements between them. For example:

For example:

Although Smith (2002) maintains that the role of the healthcare practitioner has been revolutionized in the past 20 years, Jones (2004) argues that it will never be truly patient-centred. Harvard Style
Although Smith (1) maintains that the role of the healthcare practitioner has been revolutionized in the past 20 years, Jones (2) argues that it will never be truly patient-centred. Vancouver Style





Can you identify the information and the author citations in the following?

Example A

Many studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression have been based on self-reported quantitative data alone (for example, Henderson, 1999; James, 2000; Nurk, 2003). More recently, however, Smart (2006)…
Harvard Style


Example B

Many studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression have been based on self-reported quantitative data alone (2, 4, 6). More recently, however, Smart (8)…
Vancouver Style

Check this version against your own!

EXAMPLE A

Many studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression have been based on self-reported quantitative data alone (for example, Henderson, 1999; James, 2000; Nurk, 2003). INFORMATION CITATION:

More recently, however, Smart (2006) … AUTHOR CITATION:

Check this version against your own!

EXAMPLE B

: Many studies with teenagers who had been identified as prone to suffer depression have been based on self-reported quantitative data alone (2, 4, 6). INFORMATION CITATION

More recently, however, Smart (8) … AUTHOR CITATION




When to paraphrase and when to quote?

Paraphrase is more common than quotation in academic writing. Why? Because readers want to understand your point of view and see your way of putting your text together. If they want to read something else they can just go to the source!

You paraphrase when:

  • using an idea or data from a source (eg. book or journal article). Remember to reference the source every time you paraphrase.

    Page numbers may not be necessary, depending on the referencing system used.
You quote when:

  • an author expresses an idea particularly clearly or well
  • an author expresses a particularly original idea
  • you wish to illustrate the author's perspective
  • you need to make a point about the author's language.

While quotation is more common in the humanities and social sciences, you generally do not quote at great length: try to make quotes only long enough to make your point. Remember to make them into a block quote and indent them as follows if they are longer than about two and a half lines.

Nowhere is the connection between identity and text as clear as it is when scholars get together and debate the relative merits of particular texts. There is continual slippage between the person and the text.

(Kamler, 2006, p. 15)

Often though, you'll find that you can make more careful choices about how much of the author's text you want to include.

Essay question: Can male and female modes of argument be identified?

In exploring why metaphors of war (challenge, take up a position, counter-attack) are so often used in the language of argument, Kamler's (2006, p.14ff) reasoning concerning the close link between identity and text (based on Fairclough, 1992 and others) and the 'continual slippage' between them is particularly insightful.

Remember:

  • Whether paraphrasing or quoting, whenever you make reference to an idea from another source you must cite it - that is, provide the reference details.
  • Use page numbers when you use the exact words (and therefore have quote marks) or are giving a very close paraphrase of words on a particular page of your source

Names

Making errors with the author's name seriously detracts from your work. There really is no excuse for misspelling an author's name. If referring to an author several times, it is important to find out his/her gender. If you are unfamilar with the author's first name, this may require checking with a native speaker. Sometimes biographical information is included in a book or article which can give a clue to the author's gender.

Note that after using pronouns (he, she, him, her) two or three times it is wise to restate the author's name, to ensure clarity in your writing and avoid any confusion about who the pronouns refer to. When you start a new paragraph and are still referring to the same author, it's a good idea to include the full citation, and include the date, again.

Smith (1994) contends that some medical procedures are unnecessarily invasive and cause patients discomfort which could be avoided. She argues that unless there is a clear medical imperative for testing, the patient's comfort needs to be given a higher priority. Her emphasis is on the collaborative nature of the practitioner-patient partnership. In Smith's view hospitals tend to be highly bureaucratic organisations, and administrators sometimes overlook the need to ensure and safeguard the dignity of patients.

According to Smith (1994), hospitals have been slow to re-examine policies and procedures in order to ascertain whether they are in fact necessary and useful from a medical standpoint.

word outputDownload a printable version of this page (.doc)
Problems? Questions? Comments? Please provide us feedback.