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2.2 Why should sources be acknowledged?

You should acknowledge materials you use in the creation of a piece of work to clearly identify information and ideas gained from an 'outside' source.

You should acknowledge sources to:

  • demonstrate your academic integrity
  • support your argument by showing the sources of the information from which you have formed your own ideas
  • make it easy for readers to find the sources you have used, to check the information you have used and to use the sources for further information
  • fulfil your moral and legal obligations to recognise and acknowledge the author(s) of the original ideas
  • avoid plagiarism so that you are not falsely claiming someone else's work or ideas as your own.

Moral Rights

The moral rights of an author, artist or creator entitle them:

  • to be named as the author
  • to be protected against false attribution
  • to have their work treated with respect and not be misrepresented.

Moral rights:

  • apply to the creators of copyright works
  • are separate from the entitlement of a copyright owner to payment
  • generally last for 70 years after the author's death.

To observe the moral rights of an author you should:

  • attribute any quote, paraphrase, summary or copy of someone else's work or idea
  • ensure that works are not falsely attributed to an author
  • reference appropriately.


Most HSC courses have research assignments as assessment tasks that require you to find and use a range of resources and to acknowledge where you found information you used to complete each task. See each syllabus page for further information regarding specific HSC course requirements

Learning to acknowledge sources appropriately will be very helpful to you if you continue on to university, TAFE or other tertiary studies.


Students who do not acknowledge the sources they have used, properly or at all, may be guilty of plagiarism. This is a very serious issue and may affect a student's marks and eligibility for the HSC.

Consider these situations

Q: You have gained permission from the publisher of a series of photographs on tropical rainforests to use a copy of one of the photographs as the cover page of your Geography assignment.

Is it really necessary to acknowledge the individual photographer who took the photograph you are using?

Q: You have just completed a major work for one of your HSC subjects that is to be submitted to NESA for marking. On your final check, you realise that you have not acknowledged the source of one of the key ideas used in the creation of your work. Worse still, you have lost the details of the source and you really can't be bothered spending additional time searching for details of the source. You decide to submit the work as it is, assuming everything will be OK.

Is this the best course of action?

Q: You have not used any quotes in your essay and think it would look more impressive if you use quotes from some sources that are well respected in the subject area. You decide to 'create' quotes from two of the sources used for your background reading and duly 'acknowledge' the authors, books and pages where the quotes were supposedly found. It all looks good.

Should you submit the work like this?


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