Chalmers Writing Guide

Using sources in texts

When using sources in your own text, some key questions are:

1. What do I need to reference?

-facts that involve numbers e.g. dates, statistics, figures
-statements that are controversial and can be argued against
-the more the better if the references support your writing!

You don't need to reference:

-information that is generally known 

-your own opinion

2. How much can I use of the original text?

You can use the ideas of the original text but you need to use your own words. Chalmers uses Urkund which is a program designed to see if your text is similar to other texts. It is not enough to change a word here and there - you need to quote ("") or paraphrase. In technical texts, it is more common to paraphrase than to quote. This means that you discuss the ideas of the author in your own words. See Chalmers academic honesty policy for examples of how to do this.

3. How should the in-text reference be written?

This depends on the following:

-which reference system you are using (see the Chalmers library guide)

-what information you want to highlight

-where the information is in the text

-what your opinion is of the original information

Example 1

According to current estimates of the global population, there will be 9.1 thousand million humans on earth in 2050 (United Nations 2005). As early as 2030, half of humanity will be slum dwellers, if current growth rates are maintained (Cotton et al. 2006). 

This example uses the APA referencing system (author date). The writer chooses to focus on the information rather than on the authors i.e. the authors are placed at the end in brackets. Note that "et al" is used when there are more than 3 authors.

Example 2

Cotton et al. (2006) state that  half of humanity will be slum dwellers as early as 2030.

This time the authors are highlighted, maybe because they are well-known in this area or maybe to vary the text. The author chooses a neutral reporting verb "states".

Example 3

Cotton et al. (2006) warn that half of humanity will be slum dwellers as early as 2030.

This time a stronger reporting verb "warn" is used to make a stronger point. 

For a more comprehensive list of reporting verbs and some examples, see Common reporting verbs at the University of Adelaide.