Shortcut - Writing Course 5: Using Sources

TR6.26 When you are writing essays, you discuss issues or argue your viewpoint. You have to back up what you write with examples taken from a variety of sources. On the English exam, you will have to read and use sources given to you in the preparation booklet.

When you use information taken from other sources, it is very important that you say which sources you are using. If you don´t, you are committing plagiarism – you are pretending that somebody else´s ideas or work is your own.


Using sources: citation

You need to do citations correctly when you are writing essays. There are two ways to do them – direct quotations and indirect quotations. You can use both methods, but be cautious of having too many direct quotations. Your essays should be mainly written in your own words.

In a direction quotation, you copy your source´s words directly. When you do this, you put the words you have copied in quotation marks (”...”). On page 372 of your textbook, you can see ways of doing direct quotations in the green boxes.

In an indirect quotation, you use your own words to summarize somebody else´s ideas. On page 371 of the textbook, you can see two examples of indirect quotations. Notice how you refer to the name of the person who you are indirectly quoting from in each case, and how you also give the page number of their book.


Which information should you cite?

If you think something is common knowledge, there is no need for a citation. If you are using a particular piece of knowledge to make a point, then you should use a citation.


Should you use written sources only?

Most of your sources are likely to be written, but if you want to use a film, video or other non-written source that is okay too. On page 373 of your textbook, you can see two examples for how to cite non-written sources.


How about a Norwegian source?

You can use Norwegian sources, but you will need to summarize what the source is saying in English.


List of sources

At the end of your essay, you must give a list of the sources you have used. This can be done in several ways. On page 373 of your textbook, you can see an example of a source list. Make sure you list each source in the same way.