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Lesson 2

Proper referencing

During your studies, you’ll often need to do research on a specific matter and present it through an academic or scientific paper. The integral part of writing academic and scientific papers is using and acknowledging the work of other authors who contributed to the knowledge in your field in order to offer support and evidence for your arguments and ideas. Only call upon the sources that are relevant to your specific work. Those links should be meaningful and you should re-evaluate and value them in your paper.

There are three types of references: copy words by quoting, paraphrasing and summarising.

When using the works of other authors it is important to provide the possibility of finding the source of the paraphrase, the quote or the summary by acknowledging the original author or authors using the right references.

Not acknowledging the work of others is considered plagiarism. Plagiarism is a distinct form of academic immorality which can lead to punishment.

The purpose of referencing is to avoid plagiarism, provide argumented evidence and enable the readers to further research the given matter.

What needs to be quoted?

Used ideas, words or any other kind of intellectual property.

What doesn’t need to be quoted?

Generally known facts, for example, that Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, as well as proverbs and sayings.

The purpose of referencing

In order to properly acknowledge the work of another author in your paper, you must use quotes, paraphrases and summaries appropriately and you need to do it every time you’re quoting a source.

References to sources (references) consist of two parts:

  1. The source is marked in a short form in the paper itself
  2. The source is stated in complete form in the literature list that is located at the end of the paper.

Sources that aren’t used in the paper are not stated in the literature list.

Reference styles

There are different marking styles of used sources in the paper, i.e. ways you write references: Vancouver, APA, Harvard, Chicago and others and you can easily find detailed descriptions of every style on the internet, but the most important part of using a style is to be consistent with that style throughout the whole paper. Your professor will give you more information on which reference style is most commonly used in your field and therefore which style you should use when writing papers.

  1. In some styles, like the Harvard and APA style, the quote is marked in the text in a reference bracket in which the author, year of publication and page number are stated. The advantage of this style is that the information on the source is shown in the paper itself.
  2. In other styles, like the Vancouver, the quote is marked using Arabic numbers, while the information is given in the footnote, at the end of the chapter or the end of the paper. The advantage of this style is that it takes up less space in the text.


Quoting is a standardised method of presenting used sources and ideas in a paper. By quoting the used source is quoted word for word, with the same interpunction signs, capital letters etc. A quote is always written in quotation marks. If you’re to skip some words, then you should mark the skipped part using parentheses and ellipsis […]. The source is marked according to the style that is used and stating the page. You should use quotes rarely and choose only the quotes where it is important to point out something using those exact words.


Paraphrasing means to express the shorter part of the source in our own words without quotation marks, while marking the used source according to the style, stating the page number where the chosen paraphrased part is located. For paraphrasing it isn’t enough just to change the word order or to replace the words with synonyms. A paraphrase has to show your interpretation and the interpretation of the source in regards to the topic of your paper. You need to be true to the author’s idea, clearly showing what is yours and what is someone else’s.


Summarising is a concise review of the main ideas of the entire paper in your own words without quotation marks, and by marking the used source according to the chosen style, but without stating the page number because the summary refers to the whole paper. It is important when summarising not to add your own interpretation of the original text, but to just summarise it. Remind the reader that someone else is the author of the text that you’re summarising by using phrases such as “X marks”.

In academic writing it is important to show why the source is relevant to your writing by commenting on them. Quotes, paraphrases and summaries are supposed to be integrated into your text using introductory phrases such as “according to X…”, “in his work X discusses…”, “X analyses…”, “counter to X, Y thinks…” etc.


Citation managers such as ZoteroMendeleyCitavi and Endnote are programs or online services which can help you collect, organise and store literature and other sources of information, facilitate quoting and forming the bibliography used in the paper.

Proper referencing