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SSMA Program- Library Literacy: Cite Sources

This guide is for SSMA students, to help them improve their information and library literacy in order to successfully pursue a taught master's course in social sciences

What is a Citation?

What is a citation? Watch this ~ 3min video and see!

How to Cite?

If, for example, you want to cite this article in your paper to support your ideas, (or critique the ideas in the article), you should:

  1. Make an in-text reference within your writing:
    .. creating an environment where people feel "psychologically safe" in work teams helps make those teams more effective. (Duhigg, 2016), ...

  2. Include complete details about the article in the references section at the end of your paper:
    Duhigg, Charles. 2016. What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. The New York Times. Electronic document,


What about indirect sources?

For example, you read about Smith's idea (or research findings) in Nicholson's paper and you did not read Smith's article yourself. In this case, you CANNOT cite a source that you have not read, so you need to indicate that the information is obtained from a secondary source:

  1. List the source you have read (Nicholson's paper) in the reference list, and
  2. Make an in-text citation such as
    • Smith's survey (as cited in Nicholson, 2003) showed ...
    • According to Nicholson (2003), Smith's survey says ...

What about personal communications?

Personal communications may be private letters, memo, electronic communications (e.g. e-mail), personal interviews, telephone communications, etc. Because they are not considered recoverable data, so personal communications are not required in the reference list, but you have to cite personal communications within the text. Give the initials, follow by the surname of the communicator, and provide the exact date as possible.

In-text Reference = (T.W. Lau, personal communication, September 2, 2012)


Cite What You Read or Watch or Listen to

In academic writing, you need to cite (make a reference) to texts, videos, etc. that you use as evidence.

  • Even if the paper you are referring to is listed in your class syllabus, you must cite it.
  • Even if it's something you foundon the web, you must cite it.

Some Reasons Why Scholars Cite  1

  1. To persuade ("...persuasion by argument, buttressed by support from authoritative papers in the field") . 2
  2. To embody concepts or methods (rather than describing how to determine a protein, I cite the paper that tells you this, and move with my own addition to knowledge).
  3. To provide credibility (they allow the reader to check the evidence and chain of logic themselves).
  4. To give credit for ideas and show the reader where to go for a further elaboration
2. Ibid. p. 389

Note: You need to cite sources in your writing if you use someone else's ideas, data, methodologies, illustrations, etc.; it does not matter what format they are in.

Citation Styles

Citation Styles

  • There are several common citation styles (standard formats for listing references). Style varies across disciplines. Ask your instructor which style s/he prefers.
  • In general, references of periodical articles should have these elements:
    • Author(s) - who wrote it
    • Title - what the article is called
    • Source - title of the periodical or larger work it appeared in
    • Volume & Issue numbers
    • Publication date
    • Page numbers

A Guide to Good Referencing

Use the Guide to Good Referencing is here:

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