Citing & plagiarism

In a scientific environment everybody cites and references other people's work.

Writers cite by giving and in-text citation and by providing a reference list. By citing and referencing, writers:

  • distinguish their ideas and findings from those of others;
  • give the authors credit for their work;
  • allow readers to locate and verify sources;
  • support arguments and ideas;
  • avoid plagiarism.

    On this page you will find information on how to cite and reference correctly and how to avoid plagiarism.

    Why should I use citations and references?

    The owner of a work’s copyright (see question: What is copyright and what is protected? on the page General Information). has the exclusive right to reproduce and to make his or her work publicly available. Copyright means that a work or part of a work may not be copied into another work without the owner's permission or without statutory exemption. The right to cite is one of these statutory exemptions.

    If you want to use copyright protected materials in your work, you have the right to cite and to refer to this work. You may use small parts of the work without approval as long as you do this to illustrate a proposition, to defend an opinion, or to criticize or review another’s work. Moreover, the citation must be limited to what you need and you must always state the source (see question below: How do I cite correctly?).

    What is citing?

    Citations can take different forms. When using information from another author, you can write it down in your own words (paraphrasing or summarising) or use the exact words of the original source (quoting).

    • Paraphrasing means putting another author’s words or ideas into your own words. A paraphrase is usually shorter than the original passage. Correct paraphrasing is more than simply changing and rearranging some words from the original text.
    • Summarising, on the other hand, means putting another author’s main points into your own words. A summary conveys a lot of information in a few words and is much shorter than the original text.
    • Quoting means directly copying the words of another author (word for word). A quotation can be short or long. A short quotation is mostly a part of a line or a complete line and should be enclosed in quotation marks. A long quotation, also called a block quotation, is mostly more than 1 sentence long and does not have to be enclosed in quotation marks. A block quotation is separated from your text, is often indented and in a smaller font size.

    An example of a short quotation is the following:

    • Example of a short quotation.

      An example of a long quoation is the following:

      Example of a long quotation.

    When paraphrasing, summarizing or quoting, make sure you cite and reference correctly (see question below: How do I cite correctly?).

    How do I cite correctly?

    You should always try to read the original work, known as the primary source. If you cannot access the primary source, you must cite (see question above: What is citing?) and reference the secondary source, the source that cites the primary source. You must then cite the original work as contained in the secondary source.

    In an in-text citation, you include both the original and the secondary source (e.g., Habermehl, 1985 as cited in Kersten, 1987). Depending on the citation style, you may need to cite and to reference both the primary and the secondary source or only the secondary source in the reference list. Refer to the style guideline of the journal where you want to publish your work. Wageningen University & Research has no regulations on citation styles.

    Citing and referencing involves two steps. You must provide the following information:

    1. An in-text citation after the paraphrase, summary or quote with brief details about the sources in the body of your text (e.g., Dagorn et al., 2001).
    2. A reference list with full publication details of the sources at the end of your document. (e.g., Dagorn, L. Josse, E. & Back, P. (2001). Association of yellow fin tuna (Thunnus albacares) with tracking vessels during ultrasonic telemetry experiments. Fishery Bulletin, 99(1), 40-48.)

    Tip: You can use a reference management tool to create in-text citations and reference lists in your WORD documents. The library gives short demonstrations and courses on the tools EndNote and Mendeley and can answer any questions you have on these tools.

    Do I always need to include the source of a work for every citation?

    Yes, you always need to include the work’s source for every citation. You cannot present another’s work as your work, even if the original work is not subject to copyright or if the copyright protection has expired. This would be considered plagiarism (see question below: What is plagiarism?). You always need to include a work’s source by citing and referencing it correctly (see question above: How do I cite correctly?).

    May I cite images or videos?

    Yes, you may cite images and videos. However, you may not copy the entire work. For example, you can use one or two figures from a textbook to support your argument, but you may not use all the figures in the textbook. You may not cite images that are included in the work for decorative purposes (see question above: Why should I use citations and references?).

    May I hyperlink to online material?

    Yes, you may hyperlink to online material that is freely available on the internet, provided that the material is lawfully publicly available.

    May I embed third party audiovisual materials?

    Embedding means incorporating materials (video, image, gif, sound, etc.) into the body of another document. In general, you may embed these materials in your own website, but this use may be subject to contractual restrictions. You may not copy a copyrighted work (e.g., save a video on your server) without permission of the copyright owner. Contact the legal department of your science group if you want to embed another's work.

    What can I do to prevent others from citing my work?

    Once you have published your work, you cannot prevent others from citing and referencing your work. Everyone has the right to cite. However, sometimes materials can be 'framed' or used in a wrong or misleading context. In that case, you may be able to prevent the person who cites or refers to your work from further using your work. Consult with the legal department of your science group to determine if such action is needed and viable.

    What is plagiarism?

    If you do not correctly cite and reference your sources in your work, you might be plagiarising. Plagiarism is when writers present another person’s work as their work, for example, by using another’s work without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

    Self-plagiarism is also considered plagiarism. Avoid unnecessarily reusing previously published texts of which you are the author or a co-author. Be transparent about reuse by citing the original publication. Note: plagiarism detection software may also detect this as plagiarism.

    Plagiarism is a form of fraud and a violation of scientific integrity. According to The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018, “Plagiarism means the use of another person’s ideas, work methods, results or text without appropriate acknowledgement”. All academics and researchers at Wageningen University & Research are required to act in accordance with the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. For more information, see the Scientific Integrity website of WUR.

    For students, the Rules & Regulations 2019-2020 define fraud as “committing any form of plagiarism, including copying, paraphrasing or translating the work of another author in a paper, thesis, or any other form of text and figures or models that is part of the education without indicating that this is a quotation and without correctly reporting the sources”.

    How does WUR deal with plagiarism?

    Plagiarism is a form of fraud and a violation of scientific integrity.

    Wageningen University & Research performs plagiarism checks on all individual and group student assignments. When an instructor suspects a student or a group of students of plagiarism, the instructor notifies the Examination Board. The board will then decide whether plagiarism has been committed and which sanction is applicable.

    The sanctions are proportional to the nature, severity or recurrence of the plagiarism. “Depending on the severity of the fraud […] the examining board can impose […] sanctions.” (The Student Rules & Regulations 2019-2020). “In the context of group education, if the Examining Board ascertains group fraud, then the sanctions […] can be applied to all members of the group that has committed fraud.” (The Student Rules & Regulations 2019-2020).

    WUR academics and researchers are also required to act according to The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018 and need to avoid plagiarism. According to The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018, plagiarism is a ‘research misconduct’. “Whenever ‘research misconduct’ is established, the board of the institution must consider whether it is possible and desirable to impose sanctions”. “In some cases, however, plagiarism is of such limited extent and significance that its labelling as ‘research misconduct’ would be excessive”. (The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018).

    When publishing, most researchers will undergo a plagiarism check as most scientific journals use plagiarism detection software during the paper submission process.

    Last updated on 15/04/2020.