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Information Literacy Tutorial: Using literature sources in your text

Learn what academic literature is, where to find it and how to use it correctly.

Three ways to refer to literature

There are three ways to use refences in your text: 

- Citing plus a reference to the source

- Paraphrasing plus a reference to the source

- Using a reference to the source without citing or paraphrasing

Academic integrity

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.

Write it Right

Approved by Academic Council in 2011 and authored by senior members of library staff and involving the LIT Quality Office "Write it Right" are the official referencing guidelines for the Institute and they provide guidance and support in an area that can often prove daunting for learners.


Citing means repeating or copying out someone else’s words. You should cite when a formulation is so precise that it would lose its meaning or significance if worded differently. When you cite someone else’s work, you must put the text between quotation marks and provide a source reference. Read more


Paraphrasing means describing passages from other people’s publications in your own words. When paraphrasing you are not copying the text but re-writing it. It is very important in terms of linking the work to your own text and ideas. If you do not use paraphrasing, your text will give the impression of being ‘cut and pasted’. 

Paraphrasing should not be used to make texts ‘read better’, and certainly not to conceal the fact that a text is actually someone else’s work. You always have to provide a source reference, so also when you paraphrase. Read more

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). Read more.


Some citation styles do not use a bibliography, but footnotes to indicate the sources used. This means that the source references appear at the bottom of each page instead of at the end of the text.

Citation styles

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. 

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