Responsible use of scientific sources

In academic writing you almost always make use of the work of others. It is important to refer correctly to the sources you are citing. On this page you will find information about citing.

What is citing?

Citing is to copy verbatim from a text in a publication.

Conditions of citing

Citing is allowed, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • The source is stated correctly
  • The quote is copied verbatim (no translation)
  • Beginning and end of the citation are clearly indicated (for example using quotation marks)
  • The quote is relevant to your argument and is only a small part of your text. The quote is not meant to embellish the publication.

For what do I use citations?

You use citations to illustrate your point or if you want to analyse the original phrasing of somebody else.

What do I have to bear in mind when citing?

You are not allowed to use citations as a replacement of your own text. This means that a paper may never consist of citations pieced together. This is plagiarism, even if you do refer to the source!

Please be aware that you do not take the citation out of  its original context. For instance, it must be made clear if the citation is meant ironically. So always cite in accordance with the intentions of the original author.

How much text can I cite?

How much text you can cite depends on the purpose of the citation and the length of the source text. Sometimes one line is enough, another time a whole paragraph is needed. Rule of thumb: for each cited line, write two lines yourself in which you elaborate on the citation.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is reproducing ideas from a source in your own words. For instance when the original passage is long or complicated. Paraphrasing is allowed, providing that you meet the following conditions:

  • state the source correctly
  • indicate clearly which part contains your own ideas and which is the part you have copied.

 In paraphrasing it is important that you describe the ideas of others in your own words. Merely changing a few words, or the order of the sentence is not enough. This will be seen as plagiarism. Verbatim copying of somebody else’s text is usually better, followed by your own ideas.

How to cite and paraphrase?

You must always state your sources. How you do so, depends on the citation style you choose or are obliged to use.

Well known citation styles are (explanation in Dutch only):

Tips on citing

  1. Whether you use a formal set of citation rules or not, always keep in mind:
    • Completeness:  note down in your reading list all information you need to retrace the source (in the used version/edition)
    • Unambiguity and consistency: note down the same kind of sources in a consequent manner
  2. Keep  to the citation style recommended
  3. In the case of many citations, use a reference management tool such as RefWorks, Endnote, Zotero, Papers or Mendeley. These tools will save you a lot of time

More information about citing