Quotations and References

Why should I quote sources?

It is crucial that you quote your sources.  Your reader may find your ideas interesting and perhaps he wants to know more about them.   He will therefore turn to the reference section in your paper for help.   If that reader is your tutor he check if you have included references in your work.  If you have not, he may consider that you are cheating and that could have very serious consequences for you.

Most universities have a very clear policy about plagiarism and you should know what your university’s stance is in that respect in order to avoid serious measures like being expelled from university.  Remember that universities are purchasing increasingly more sophisticated software can crack down any attempts to steal other people’s ideas.


References also help to create a more academic piece of work.  It could be the case that you come up with quite an original idea when you start working on your paper.  However, while doing research you will find – to your dismay- that your idea is not quite original as you had thought, since other people before you had already  come up with it long before.  In that case, it is still quite advisable to show that there are publications that support your ideas.  This will show you that tutor you have not cheated, that there have been previous publications about it.

But what happens if you come up with a new finding?  If it is a real breakthrough there will be nothing published about it; yet, you should include all those references that have led you to that “discovery”.

You should mention all your sources even if you think there are not up to academic level.  This includes all types of new “formats” like webpages and online material.

What happens if I do not include any references?

References are a must when you are at university. Certainly including references will give a more “academic touch” to your paper.  Besides, your Department or Faculty expects you to mention the sources that have helped you during your research and this applies to all the assignments you do both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Furthermore, if you include references your tutor will also see that you have taken your time to do some research and find the right sources.  Not only that, it will also show him you know how to select what is relevant from what it is not and whether your research skill are improving or not.

How old could my sources be?

When including references it is always advisable to include sources that are not older than ten years old, unless there is a very good reason for it.   It does not give a very good impression to find a bibliographic list where the references provided are fifteen, twenty and even twenty-five years older or more.  What would anyone choose sources that are quite old instead of the latest publications on paper or on-line?  Finding the latest research also shows your research skills.