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A Guide to Citing your Sources: Citiation Basics

This guide provides some basic information on how to cite sources used in your research



A citation is the method used by researchers to inform the reader of the original source of information, ideas or images used in the body of research. It also provides the person reading the work with information which allows them to locate the original source used.

Why do I Need to Cite?


  • To give credit to the authors of sources consulted
  • To allow persons reading your work to get a better understanding about the sources you consulted as part of your research.

  • To allow others reading your work to identify and consult the resources that informed your research.

  • Writing complete and accurate references is part of scholarly output. Excluding references from your paper is considered plagiarism.


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is "The unacknowledged and unjustified use of the works, ideas, or creations of another including unjustified unacknowledged quotation and unjustified unattributed borrowing."
Source: University Regulations on Plagiarism. UWI August 2011.

NB! To avoid plagiarizing another persons work, It is important that you include the source of your information. Below are some instances of plagiarism.

Deliberate Plagiarism Accidental Plagiarism
Rewriting from books and articles Not knowing how and when to cite
Copying and pasting from websites Not knowing how to summarize or paraphrase
Submitting another persons work as your own Recycling your own paper from another class


What Should I Cite?

Both published and unpublished sources must be cited in your paper. These include:
  • Books

  • Book Chapters

  • Refereed Journal Articles

  • Working Papers

  • Journal Articles

  • Newspaper Articles

  • Magazine Articles

  • Blogs

  • Websites

  • Images

  • Newsletters

  • Bulletins

Useful Definitions

Published Work

Copies of the item are distributed to the public in hard copy or electronic format. The preparation and issuing of a book, journal, piece of music, maps or other work for public sale

Unpublished Work

Work that is not for sale but can be used to support research e.g. Theses, Research notes.

Grey Literature

Material produced by organizations outside of the traditional publishing avenues e.g. Technical Reports Working papers Government Documents, White Papers,

When do I need to Cite?

When you use or refer to an idea that has already been expressed or written. e.g. a sentiment mentioned in the delivery of a speech or a topic covered in print.  Some examples of when citing is required are provided  below.

Direct Quotes

When copying the exact words from a text, the section copied must be placed in quotations marks "  "  . The text where the quotation can be found must be cited.


When you put the main ideas of what you have read in a book or article into your own words. You must state which book or article was used.


When you use your own words to restate the information you have read, you must state which book or article was consulted.

When you use someone else's works and ideas

When you refer to an idea that has already been expressed by someone else. 

What is Common Knowledge?

  • Information that is widely known and generally accepted.
  • Information that cannot be attributed to only one source. e.g. the Island of Barbados is 166 square miles.