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Information Literacy Tutorial: A. Citing Sources

A module-based information literacy tutorial that addresses each stage of the research process, including selecting a topic, identifying information needs, selecting sources, locating information, evaluating information, and citing sources.

What is Referencing?

 What is referencing?


We are not all inventors. Most of our thoughts or ideas are shaped by others.  When one does research you investigate the work of other researchers in depth in order to know the literature in a field. Only then can one add your own contribution to the subject area. 

Your lecturers will expect to see how you have used and applied material in your assignment. You have to acknowledge the authors of the works you have used. This is called "Referencing". Providing references for sources you used also lends credibility to your work, especially if you use authoritative sources.

 Full References

Be sure to provide references to all types of sources you use, including:

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Internet sites
  • Interviews
  • Government documents
  • Nonprint media (DVDs, videotapes)
  • Database sources

Citing Sources

Jewell, C. & Romane, L. (2009). "Crediting others' ideas".  Academic Integrity Tutorial.   Illus. Sara LeBlanc. University of Waterloo (permission granted by authors).

Elements of a Reference

A reference must include the following elements:

Referencing Different Types of Sources


    Book Source Reference:

    •  Author(s). (Date of Publication). Title of Book. City of Publisher, Publisher.

    Morrow, W. (2007). Learning to teach. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.


    Journal Source Reference:

    • Author(s). (Date of Publication). Title of the article. Title of the Periodical, volume number, Inclusive page numbers.

    De Wet, C. (2010). Victims of educator-targeted bullying: a qualitative study. South African Journal of Education, 30(2), 189-201.


      Internet Source Reference:

      •  Author/Editor. (Date of page creation or last revision). Full title of the web page. Retrieved from URL on [date accessed]
      Green, C. (2000, April 16). History & philosophy of psychology web resources. Retrieved from on 26 September 2011.


      Interview Source Reference:

      •  Author/Editor. (Date of page creation or last revision). Description. Date of the interview. Place. Recording.

      Smuts, Dene. (1987). Interview with the author on 4 August 1987. Cape Town. [Casette recording in possession of author]


      Government Document Source Reference:

      •  Official name of the country. The full name of the department. Title of document. Publisher will be the official printer/publisher for the government of that country.
      South Africa. Department of Home Affairs. (1980).  Guidelines for chairmen of publications committees. Pretoria. Government Printer.


      Nonprint media (Video tape) Source Reference:

      •  Title. (Year). Producer, name; director name. Place: Production house. Video format (length). The format [Video recording] is placed at the end of the entry in square brackets.

      Silent Hunter.(1986). Producer, John Varty; director Duncan McLachlan. s.l: Landolozi Productions. 1 videocassette (VHS) (49 mins). [Video recording]

      Database Source Reference:

      •  The title of the journal in which the full article has been published (The Lancet) is underlined.  The name of the database and the reference number of the iven in database is square brackets.
      Underwood, M.(1998). The role of anti-oxidants in cancer of the colon. The Lancet, 135(3):34-45. [Abstract in the MEDLINE database,]




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