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2.3 When and how to acknowledge sources

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2.3 When and how should sources be acknowledged within the body of a work?


When you quote, paraphrase, summarise or copy information from the sources you are using to research your work, you must always acknowledge the source.

There are two places where you need to acknowledge the source: in the text, and at the end of the text.

The place where you use the information in the text of your work should be shown with an 'in-text citation'. At the end of your work, you should provide a reference list of all the works that you have 'cited' in your work.

Your teachers will expect you to use an in-text citation and provide a full reference list of the sources used whenever you:

  • quote - ie use someone else's words
  • copy - eg a table, map, image
  • paraphrase - ie put someone else's ideas into your own words
  • summarise - ie create your own short account of someone else's information or ideas


You must acknowledge the original author and where you found the material within the resource. This can be done using an in-text citation, a footnote or an endnote. As there are a variety of referencing styles, you should follow your teachers' advice on which to use.

How should direct quotes be referenced using in-text citation?

Short quotations

If you quote an author directly and the quotation is a short quotation (as a guide, less than three or four lines), you should place the quotation in quotation marks and identify the source.

Long quotations

If you quote an author directly and the quotation is a long quotation (as a guide, more than three or four lines), you should set the quotation off from your text by indenting and identify the source.

In the Harvard (or author-date) system, the source can be identified by providing the author's or organisation's name, the year of publication and the page number in brackets. For example, 'The stable world of the nineteenth century was coming down in chaos: security was gone.' (Bean, 1983, p.22)

How should indirect quotes, paraphrasing or summarising be referenced using in-text citation?

When you are using another person's idea but not quoting directly, you must acknowledge the source. In the Harvard system, the source can be identified by placing the author's or authority's name and the year of publication in brackets before or after referring to it.

Footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes are also ways of acknowledging the sources of any material quoted, summarised or paraphrased on any page of a submitted work. Footnotes and endnotes are intended to refer readers to exact pages of the works listed in the reference list.

How should any material quoted, summarised or paraphrased be referenced using footnotes or endnotes?

Insert a number (either in brackets or slightly above the line) in your text at the end of the sentence or immediately following a direct quotation or idea that is being used from a source. For footnotes, the information about the source of each numbered reference is given at the bottom of each page of your text. With endnotes this information is given in a list at the end of your work.

Consider these situations

Q: You have details of the information and the source of information you are using in an assignment but you are not sure whether you have recorded the exact words of the authors of the works.

Should you put the words in quotation marks, acknowledge the sources and hope for the best?

Q: You have spent a lot of time researching material from the web for a major assignment. You have reduced about 100 pages of information from five websites to five pages of points. By this stage, these points seem more like your work than the original creators.

Should you acknowledge the sources of information using in-text citation or footnotes or endnotes, as well as put these references in your reference list or bibliography?

Q: In a science assignment, you have written a brilliant analysis of the data you found in a report on an experiment. It's your analysis that will be marked, not the table of figures on which you have based your analysis.

Should you acknowledge the source of the data even though it's not the important part of your assignment?


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