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Sources and references

Why use references to sources in academic texts? There are at least three good reasons for doing so.

Referencing is all about assisting the reader, creating and sustaining respectful scholarly communities, and not carrying the entire burden of proof all alone. We use references... 

...for the reader: 
Readers of academic texts are often interested in learning more about the content, and looking for more texts about similar topics. One reason for including references is to help interested readers locate other sources of information about something you mention in your text.

...for the scholarly community: 
Doing research in order to make true statements about the world is a communal activity. Stories of lone geniuses are exaggerated and unrealistic. One good reason to include references is to credit other researchers in the scholarly community for their contributions, making it possible for you to write your text. 

...for ourselves: 
Using references is to mobilize allies. Don't be left alone with the burden of proof for every single claim your text is making. Spread the burden throughout the research community, so you only will have to substantiate and defend your own choices, analyses and conclusions.

In addition there are certain laws that are supposed to secure the rights of people doing research and development work. No one, for instance, are allowed to take something you have written and present it as their own without referencing your original work. They are also not allowed to reuse their own work (for instance an earlier semester assignment or exam) without referencing to their own original. Doing this is called plagiarism. 

Some people end up plagiarising without intending to to so. But if you reflect on the reasons for using references, and do not deliberately try to present other researchers' work as your own, you have little reason to worry. 


When you evaluate the potential sources you have found, there are many criteria you could use. One well-known way is to evaluate the text's Credibility, Objectivity, Accuracy, and Appropriateness.

Credibility concerns who created the text, who pubslihed or communicated it, and who owns the source. 

Objectivity concerns whether the information from the source corresponds to the knowledge we already have, and whether there are interests we should be aware of. 

Accuracy concerns whether the source is precise and up to date, and whether it references its own sources. 

Appropriateness concerns whether the source really offers the information you need, who is the intended audience, and whether it is practically available within the limits of your project.

There is a connection between the questions you ask when evaluating a source of information and the reference you put in your text and bibliography. 

When we evaluate a source of information we often begin by asking who created it, what kind of source it is, where the source originated, and when it was published. 

Writing a source reference is really just making the answers to these questions easily available to the reader. We state who is the author, what kind of text we are dealing with, and where and when it was published. 

Academic books state this on their first pages. Author, the title of the book, publisher and publisher's location, and finally the year of publication. 







At the end of the academic book, or at the end of academic articles, you will most often find a bibliography containing references to all the sources the author has used writing their text. A reference might for instance look like this:


Notice this reference answers precisely the questions we would be looking for if we wanted to evalute the source – author, title, place/publiser, and time. The reference provides a good place for the reader to find the source itself. 



It is easier to locate sources you discover in bibliographies if you know whether they are articles, books or book chapters. Even if the reference style might vary, a reference will always contain the information you need in order to determine what kind of source it is.

Below are a few examples of how you might read references. The only way to really learn how to do it is to practice doing it. Get used to looking over bibliographies, and locating sources in this way. Over time, understanding how references work will become easier.

Example 1: Article in academic journal.

In this reference, the title Religions is written in italics, so we know this is the name of the publication itself. This means the title How to survive...etc will be included in this journal. The numbers in italics show which issue and volume of the journal the article is located in, and the page numbers where in that particular journal issue. 

NB: If the journal is published electronically it will be possible to search using the article's title and find it this way. If the journal only exists in physical format (for instance if it is older than 2010 and not digitized) you have to search for the journal and locate the correct year, volume and issue.

Example 2: Book

In this reference the title of the publication itself is also written in italics, the title of the book. It also says it is the first edition, so that also tells us it is a book. It is published by the publisher Polity, both in England (UK) and the US (the city of Medford in Massachusetts). 

Example 3: Chapter in edited book.

The author mentioned first (Aaby) has written the text 17. mai-feiring...etc. The title of the text is not in italics, and the little word in shows the text is included as part of a larger publication. THe title of the publication is in italics, and the name of the editor (Bjørg Seland) tells us this is not a journal but an edited collection or anthology. Most commonly this will be a book where several different researchers have written a chapter each, while one or more of them have been editor or project leader and collected the contributions in a single volume. Remember: if we want to find this chapter in the library, we cannot search for the title of the text. We have to search for the book containing the text. 

Different scholarly traditions, different journals, and different publishers have different requirements for what references should look like. The most common styles are either foot/endnote-styles or Author-Date-styles.

Foot/endnotes are most common in the humanities while Autohr-Date-styles are more common in the social sciences. THere are exceptions to this, so please speak to your supervisor or course director to make sure what is expected. 

A reference consists of two elements: the reference in the text, and the reference in the bibliography. There needs to be a connection between these two. The in-text reference is meant to assist the reader in locating the reference in the bibliography. 

The most visible difference between the reference styles is what the in-text reference looks like.

Foot/endnote-styles use small elevated numbers in the text. The numbers refer to numbered notes in smaller font at the bottom of the page. This foot note provides all the information the reader needs in order to locate the source of information (author, title, place, year, and possibly page numbers). Most styles still require a complete bibliography at the end of the text, even if the sources are all mentioned in the notes. 


Author.Date-styles use parantheses in the text. Inside the paranthesis is the name of the author and year, and possibly page number. There always needs to be enough information in the paranthesis that the reader can locate the full reference in the bibliography at the end of the text.


At Kildekompasset you can find the reference style you are going to use, and find examples of what in-text references and bibliographies should look like. You can also see how to fill in the details in EndNote or  Zotero. 

We recommend using reference tools such as ENdNote or Zotero.

These are software tools that can be downloaded for free (Zotero) or that the university provides for its students and employees (EndNote). THe reference tools allow you to download information about your sources while you are performing literature searches, organize them in a personal library than might be shared with others in a group, and easily integrate the references (and bibliography) correctly while writing your text.

Read more about EndNote here.

Read more about Zotero here.

Hvilke bilder, fotografier, faksimiler el.l har man lov å bruke i oppgaven eller avhandlingen? 

Et åndsverk er noe noen har laget. De som har laget åndsverket har opphavsrett til det. Opphavsretten reguleres av åndsverkloven.

Offentlige dokumenter, rapporter, forslag, rettsbestemmelser o.l. knyttet til offentlig myndighetsutøvelse regnes vanligvis ikke som åndsverk. Disse kan gjengis uten videre.

Vi skiller mellom frie og ufrie åndsverker. Et verk kalles fritt dersom det er mer enn 70 år siden opphavspersonen døde (eller for fotografier mer enn 50 år siden bildet ble laget og 15 år siden fotografen døde). Vi sier at disse verkene er «falt i det fri» - de er tilgjengelige for alle. Disse kan også gjengis uten videre.

Alle verk som dette ikke gjelder, kaller vi ufrie.

Gjengivelse av ufrie verk er kun lovlig med samtykke fra opphavspersonen. Verker som ikke er offentliggjort av opphavspersonen selv, eller som opphavspersonen ikke har samtykket til å gjøre offentlig – som private bilder, utkast, manus, brev o.l., – kan ikke gjengis.

Men åndsverkloven §37 første ledd gir noen unntak for åndsverker som opphavspersonen har offentliggjort eller gitt samtykke til å offentliggjøre:

Offentliggjort kunstverk og offentliggjort fotografisk verk kan gjengis i tilslutning til teksten i kritisk eller vitenskapelig fremstilling som ikke er av allmennopplysende karakter, når det skjer i samsvar med god skikk og i den utstrekning formålet betinger.

Her er en liste med spørsmål som kan hjelpe oss å tenke over hvordan vi bruker slike offentliggjorte åndsverk, som bilder, faksimiler eller fotografier el.l. i avhandlingen:

Er fremstillingen min en «kritisk eller vitenskapelig fremstilling»?

Godkjente bacheloroppgaver, mastergrader eller doktorgrader vil vanligvis karakteriseres som vitenskapelige fremstillinger til ikke-kommersiell bruk. De følger faglige krav til fremstilling og er skrevet av fagpersoner som henvender seg til et fagmiljø for å argumentere for faglige påstander.

Er fremstillingen min «av allmennopplysende karakter»?

Populærvitenskapelige fremstillinger eller alminnelige undervisningsopplegg i videregående skole vil vanligvis regnes å være av allmennopplysende karakter. Dette gjelder vanligvis ikke godkjente bacheloroppgaver, masteroppgaver eller doktorgrader.

Bruker jeg verket «i tilslutning til teksten»?

Det må være en sammenheng mellom verket som er gjengitt og det som står i teksten. Ufrie verker kan ikke brukes som generelle eller løsrevne illustrasjoner uten forbindelse til innholdet i teksten.

Gjengir jeg verket «i samsvar med god skikk»?

Gjengivelse av andres verker er en form for sitering, og de samme kravene til kildehenvisning og god siteringspraksis gjelder som for resten av avhandlingen. Opphavspersonen må navngis og kilden gjengis korrekt.

Gjengir jeg verket «i den utstrekning formålet betinger»?

Formålet med å gjengi verket må være kritikk, kommentar, analyse eller dokumentasjon, og stå i forbindelse med teksten. Man kan ikke gjengi mer enn man egentlig trenger til dette.

Du kan lese mer om opphavsrett og bruk av åndsverk på Kildekompasset.