Citing and Referencing Sources

Citing and Referencing
Referencing Other People’s Work
citations are necessary to
– give credit to the authors of the original idea or text
– to put the idea in the context of the original work
– to allow the reader to look up the original work and investigate it.
citation – a reference to other work used as a source. Usually put in
brackets and denotes an entry to the references section
quotation – a direct repetition of a text in another document. Usually put
in quotes or otherwise unambiguously visually delineated
failure to cite appropriate sources is plagiarism. Specifically:
use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and
the representation of them as one's own original work [Random House
Compact Dictionary]
ACM Code of Ethics gives the following examples of plagiarism:
– verbatim copying, near-verbatim copying, or purposely paraphrasing
portions of another author's paper;
– copying elements of another author's paper, such as equations or
illustrations that are not common knowledge, or copying or purposely
paraphrasing sentences without citing the source; and
– verbatim copying of portions of another author's paper with citing but not
clearly differentiating what text has been copied (e.g., not applying
quotation marks correctly) and/or not citing the source correctly.
Variations self-plagiarism: verbatim or near-verbatim reuse of significant
portions of one's own copyrighted work without citing the original source
[ACM code of ethics]
– exception: publications based on previously copyrighted work (journal
publication of conference proceedings) – require explicit citation but no
quotation marks
Avoiding Plagiarism
it is tempting to use other people’s text, definitions, ideas
– you read a lot of papers and try to extend other people’s work
in your own research
– certain things written by others would look so good in your
make it a rule and to follow it strictly: if it is not yours – either cite or
do not use. Several ethical and technical considerations
– plagiarism irrevocably damages your academic career and
– once your work is published, it stays published indefinitely.
There is no statute of limitations
– search engines make it easy to find copied text
Practical Considerations
if text, e.g. definition, is used by several authors without quotations: it
is considered common knowledge: ok to use but still worth providing a
if presenting somebody else’s idea: retell or summarize rather than
use their text. Do not forget to cite.
do not reuse other people’s pictures in papers: draw your own.
if using other people’s graphics in slides, make sure to cite
– even though slides is not considered copyrighted work, still be
careful with citations
just providing reference without quotation marks may not be sufficient
if it is artwork: ask permission, because it may be copyrighted
in general err on the side of over-citing. If in doubt, consult somebody
Avoiding Self-Plagiarism
ACM is considering it an ethical violation as well
requires extra effort to avoid: you are copying from yourself, you usually
work on the same or similar things.
practical rules:
– technical report to conference or journal paper: okay to copy, no need
for citation (techreport is not copyrighted). This might change with time
– conference to journal paper: okay to copy, need citation
– papers to thesis: okay to copy, need citation
– slides: gray area, err on over-citing
paper to paper?
– if results/substance: do not copy
– definitions: common knowledge – okay to copy, unless it is a key
definition from another paper (substance).
– introduction: grey area. However, try not to. Even if it may not be an
explicit ethical violation, it looks bad. Instead, try rewriting an
introduction from scratch, without looking at previous papers. It will
significantly improve the paper, and make it look fresh.
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