Studying and Student life

Citing sources

Acknowledging the sources you have used

Every scholarly text (including your own paper or thesis) builds upon knowledge and findings of other researchers. For that reason you must always properly attribute the sources you use in your writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s an academic article or book, a blog post, a statement your professor made in class, a paper written by a fellow student, or information you found on a website. When incorporating someone else’s ideas into your work, you must clearly indicate that you have done so. This is called referencing or citing.


  1. You give due credit to the author you are citing.
  2. You make your text verifiable for others. The reader can ascertain what your ideas are, and what you have taken from others. You enable the reader to locate your sources.
  3. The exception to this rule: common knowledge. For example: “William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564” or “Alcohol consumption causes changes in behavior”.

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

These are three ways to incorporate ideas from others into your text. Quoting is using identical segments of the source text. Paraphrasing means rewriting a short section of the source in different words whilst keeping the same meaning; summarizing involves putting the source’s main ideas into your own words.

A mistake less-experienced students frequently make is sticking too closely to the original text ('close paraphrasing'). Examples include maintaining the original sentence structure and simply replacing words with synonyms, or changing the sentence structure but not the words. For more information and examples, check the RefCite tutorial.

How to cite sources

Your lecturer will expect you to use a specific system for citing sources (a referencing style or citation style). Check out the page How do I reference? for information about the referencing styles used at Tilburg University.


Everyone who uses (parts of) a source without due acknowledgement is guilty of plagiarism. The university considers plagiarism a serious academic offense. Student who are found to have plagiarized will be subject to a sanction.

Want to know how to avoid plagiarism? Take a look at the RefCite tutorial.