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Citation Guide: Citation techniques

Referencing standards

The following standards are worth studying, they include a lot of examples of references and citations:

• ISO 690:1987 covers marking source references to written documents.

• ISO-690-2 Information and documentation – Bibliographic references- Part 2: Electronic documents or parts thereof (Extracts of the standard can be found via Google.).

• SFS 5989 Guidelines for bibliographic references and citations to information resources (2012) (available via SFS Online service).

Additional reading

• Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 2010. Washington (D.C.) : American Psychological Association. ISBN 978-1-4338-0561-5.

Learn from other students' works - Aaltodoc

When writing a thesis, other students' works may be helpful. Full text materials produced by the schools of Aalto University are available in the Aaltodoc publication archive.

Getting started

• Successful information retrieval is a central basis of academic writing.
• Include essential background literature in your thesis.
• Use academic information resources.
• Choose the best and most relevant sources.
• Study the bibliographies of good sources.
• Check the reliability of the sources you are going to use.

Why to cite

• Citing is a foundation pillar of scientific communication.
• They enable the readers of your work to easily locate the references.
• They show what kind of background literature you have read.
• They show how well you have understood the topic of your thesis.

When to cite

• When citing the source must be visible.
• Presenting another author's ideas, results or words as your own is plagiarism.
• Separate your own thoughts and cited information from each other.
• Acknowledge the source of an information unless it is common knowledge in your subject area.
• Use quotation marks in direct quotations.

How to cite

• Be consistent – use always the same style in your text references and bibliographic references.
• Use guides for making the references.
• Don’t copy ready-made references as such.


Placing in-text citations

The place of in-text citation depends whether the focus of the sentence is on the author or on the information

Examples of how to cite in text according to the Harvard system:

  • Meikäläinen (2006, p. 22) found that...
  • Recent research (Meikäläinen 2006, p. 22) has found that...
  • It has been said ... in the Aalto University. Hence ... have an impact to the studies (Meikäläinen 2006, p. 22).

Notice that the full stop is always placed outside the citation in most international citation styles.

Referencing is an essential part of academic writing

Accurate references is one of the characteristic aspects of academic writing. Make sure that you correctly reference all the sources for the information you have included in your work.

The ideas that you refer to need to be made explicit by a system of citation. The bibliography should include details for everything that you cite in your work.
A reference consists of two parts: in-text citation and bibliographic reference.

A reference consists of two parts

There are two components to referencing:
In-text citation (in brackets) is  inserted in the text directly after the information being sourced from the scientific literature.
Bibliographic reference appears at the end of the work and contains sufficient information of the source.
• The bibliography contains only those bibliographic references which have been cited in the text.

Be accurate

• Be accurate with the references.
• Reserve enough time for making the references.
• The references give an overview of the quality and reliability of the thesis.