Sources and referencing
All research uses the work of others as its starting point – what we call ‘sources’. Good academic work is characterized by use of relevant, scientific sources, and builds on existing knowledge. Without citations to existing research, disciplinary knowledge and relevant information, your assignment will be detached from the scholarly community. Any sources you use will help to lay the foundations for the assessment of your text.
The best sources to use will vary from subject to subject, and from assignment to assignment. Relevant sources can be found everywhere: in books, articles, websites, news articles, and maps. Use your research question as a guide, and ask your tutors, fellow students and researchers within your field to help you find sources that are appropriate for your discipline.
Why refer to the work of others?
All forms for argumentation which are not based on one’s own material or one’s own reasoning must always be cited during writing, and in the list of references. This may be others’ opinion, models, results or conclusions.
To help the reader easily locate your sources, use in-text-citations throughout your text, and collect all the references you have cited in a reference list at the end. There do exist alternative ways of arranging citations and references (there is some variation between academic disciplines and between publishers), but the principle is the same for all: make it possible for a reader to check the sources you are using, and to read more about your topic if they wish.
Careful documentation of sources enables the reader to quickly:
- look up the sources themselves
- check facts and the accuracy of your results
- find further information about the topic
Another important reason for using proper citations is to avoid plagiarism, which is the use of others’ results, thoughts and ideas as if they were your own. This is considered intellectual theft according to intellectual property laws.
Extensive and/or deliberate plagiarism is considered cheating. According to Universitets- og høyskoleloven (Norwegian University and College Law) §§ 4-7 and 4-8, this can lead to failing the assignment and expulsion from your academic programme, with potentially severe effects for further studies. All educational institutions are aware of problems related to cheating, and use specific software to detect plagiarism.