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Academic Integrity

Proper use of citations and sources

Once you decide that you need to give credit to a source that you have used in your work, there are various ways for doing so. Different journals and disciplines use different formats, and at Brandeis International Business School (IBS) we do not mandate a particular format. The main criterion is this: You must give enough information so the reader can find the source that you cited.

For published work, this means, at a minimum, that you report the author, title, source of publication, and sometimes page numbers. For Internet pages, it means reporting the complete URL (and usually the date, as URLs change!). Conventionally published papers that are also presented on the Internet are a hybrid: You can usually just report the publication information. For other sources, such as telephone interviews, company documents, and so on, you would report the source, even though it is sometimes impossible for the reader to actually find that document information without your help.

Where do you report this information? Here too there are different formats in different fields, and at Brandeis IBS we are not wedded to any format. Common ways to report the source are:

  • A footnote on the page: This is a numerical superscript in the text at the end of the information that is being cited. The footnote itself can give the full source information or be an abbreviation of the source; in the latter case, there must be a list of "references" at the end of the paper that includes an entry corresponding to this source.
  • An endnote: This is again a numerical superscript in the text at the end of the information that is being cited, but now with the source information in a list at the end. This method is less easy to read and is less advisable now that software programs easily reformat pages to fit in footnotes.
  • A parenthetical note: This is a short reference in parentheses that, again, corresponds to an item in the "references" section at the end. The reference would usually give the author and date, and sometimes a page number; based on this minimal information, the reader must be able to find the source back in the references.

Beyond these basic rules, there are lots of typographical conventions about the formalities of citing books, articles, articles in books, articles in newspapers, and so on. Unless you are writing a PhD thesis or an article for publication, you probably don't need to bother too much with these fine distinctions. Even so, a common and useful approach is the Turabian style, based on the well-known University of Chicago style (from Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Terms Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, University of Chicago, various editions). See a synopsis of this style.