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Information Literacy Graduates: Using literature sources in your text

Learning outcome

After studying this section you will know how to refer to literature sources in an appropriate manner, by citing, paraphrasing and including a list of the literature you have used (bibliography).

Using literature sources in your text

The preceding chapters were about finding relevant scholarly information for your research. However, collecting information is not an end in itself; you are doing research and this is going to result in a report, such as an essay, an article, a thesis etc.

For every type of scholarly report it is essential that the author's statements can be verified by the reader. This means that you should always make appropriate reference to the sources you have used for your papers, essays, theses or reports. How you should do this is explained in this chapter.

Academic integrity

Academic Integrity means honest and responsible scholarship. As a student, you are expected to submit original work and give credit to other peoples' ideas. Maintaining your academic integrity involves:

  • Creating and expressing your own ideas in course work.
  • Acknowledging all sources of information.
  • Completing assignments independently or acknowledging collaboration.
  • Accurately reporting results when conducting your own research.
  • Honesty during examinations.

(Statement by Michigan State University)

So when you are using sources you have to do this accurately and in an above-board way. 

When you use other people’s work, you must state the exact source and author(s). Scientific advances are seldom achieved by one person alone. They are the result of work by many people, who deserve to be named when their contribution is used.

You use source references so that others can see what you have based your work on. They must be able to access the same information. This is why you should only use published sources.

See also the chapter on Plagiarism.

Two ways to refer to literature

There are two ways to use references in your text: 

- Citing plus a reference to the source.
- Paraphrasing plus a reference to the source.

Citing - Paraphrasing

Find more information on this topic in the basic Information Literacy LibGuide.



Citation: an introduction

Citation styles: examples

In the academic world there are strict rules for setting out source references. Each discipline has its own citation style. Also, references are set out differently depending on whether you use them in a bibliography, in the text itself, in a footnote or in an endnote. During your study you will learn which citation styles should be used for your discipline.

List of sources / Bibliography

The bibliography, source list or list of references is placed at the end of the text to provide an overview of the information sources you have consulted. There are strict rules for compiling these lists, and there are different styles for different disciplines (APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, Harvard). See Citation styles: examples.

Example of a bibliography:

Mandl, H., et al. (Eds.). (n.d.). Learning and instruction: European research in an international context (Vol. 2). Oxford, UK: Pergamon.
Matthews, J. (1999). The art of childhood and adolescence: The construction of meaning. London, England: Falmer Press.

Mental disorders and their treatment. (1987). In The new encyclopaedia Britannica (5th ed., Vol. 23, pp. 956-975). Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Some citation styles use footnotes instead of a bibliography to indicate the sources used. Footnotes are source references appearing at the bottom of each page instead of at the end of the text.

Example of a footnote:

Text within the research paper

While most candy and sweet treats are believed to have a negative effect on those with, or susceptible to getting, diabetes, more research is supporting the idea that chocolate, when consumed in moderation, can have positive effects on the body.5


5Refer to Braunshweig (2011) for specific benefits of chocolate consumption.