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How to use sources

When you are writing a scientific report or paper, your professor will expect you to use sources in your work. This means that you must actively search for and make use of knowledge and information about your topic.

A large part of what you write will be based on the work of other authors:

  • ideas
  • arguments
  • reasoning
  • theories
  • collected data
  • empirical findings, etc

When using another author's work in your own, you must always write where you found this information.

Why should you name your sources?

There are several reasons for why you have to name your sources.

The correct use of sources shows that you:

  • recognise other authors' work
  • have read literature on your topic
  • place your work in a larger academic context
  • master the technique of naming sources

Correct use of sources also makes the reader capable of:

  • identifying and retrieving the sources you have used
  • identifying your own paragraphs, ideas and conclusions

A lack of or incorrect use of sources is called plagiarism. Plagiarism results in you failing your paper and a potential loss of the right to sit your exam.

When should you name your sources?

It may be difficult to know when to name your sources, but a thumb rule is that we want you to name your sources when you:

  • use quotes
  • paraphrase, that is use indirect quotes
  • refer to

It is not necessary to name sources when writing about something that is publicly known and accepted.

It is not necessary to name sources if you write that Norway voted “No” in the EU referendum in 1994. However, if you want to state how many per cent voted no and how the no-votes were distributed in the population, or if you want to analyse the causes and consequences of Norway's no, you must name your sources.