4.4 References and citations

Course subject(s) 4. Reporting your findings

References and citations

In this section we will discuss references: why should you use them, when should you use them, and how should you use them. Please watch the video below.

References in a report

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In-text references

Now that we have discussed which objects need references, we will move on to how they should be included in your text. There are four common ways in which you can include ideas and results created by someone else. Such an inclusion is called a citation.

  • A quotation: An exact copy of the statement made by the original author, placed between quotation marks.
    Example: “All models are wrong”, as noted by the statistician Box in [1] (p. 792).
  • Paraphrasing: Rather than copying the words used by the author, you formulate the result or data in your own words.
  • Summarizing: This looks similar to paraphrasing, but in this case you mention only a main result of a larger work. Once again, mention the author and use your own words to describe the result you want to use.
    Example: Arnold showed in [2] that Rainbowfish are able to recognize their own kin, and show different behavior towards their relatives.
  • Figures or Tables: We will discuss these on the next page.

In each of these cases, you should clarify explicitly whose work you are using. Many scientific journals have their own style rules on how this clarification should be formatted. For this course you may follow any style you are used to, as long as your text includes the authors, and enough extra information to find the source in your reference list. We do ask, however, that you make a consistent choice in how you style your in-text references.

In the examples above, the authors are mentioned explicitly, and the numbers [1] and [2] show the locations of the relevant sources in the reference list. Other styles might skip this number, and instead include the publication year of the source. In this way, it is still easy to find the source in your reference list. The short quotation includes a page number as well, to aid the reader in finding this quote.

To find more information on reference formatting in different styles, see for example the website Purdue Online Writing Lab.

The lay-out of the reference list itself will be discussed later in Section 4.5. However, as this text itself includes references, it must contain a short reference list as well:

[1] Box, G.E.P., Science and Statistics, Journal of the American Statistical Association (1976), 71: 791-799. doi:10.1080/01621459.1976.10480949.
[2] Arnold, K., Kin recognition in rainbowfish (Melanotaenia eachamensis): sex, sibs and shoaling, Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2000), 48: 385. doi:10.1007/s002650000253.

Next, a page on figures and tables in a report.

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