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How to refer to other author’s work in your dissertation?

While graduating from college you need to write papers or dissertations that often require referring to other author’s work in some or the other way. Doing this efficiently is very important, to complete your graduation successfully.  In American universities, they have rules regarding how to use references to other peoples work. Any kind of misrepresentation of such references can result in severe penalty, which even includes dismissal from your University Degree program. When writing dissertations, you often refer to peoples work. These references are an integral part of your writing. But how many of you know the correct way of putting such references in your paper? Let us discuss this in detail.

Referring to other peoples work in your dissertation can be done in three ways. These are

  • Summarizing or concise expression of the original work,
  • Paraphrasing or restating a text or passage in other words and
  • Quoting directly.

While using or referring to the work of some other person, the two fundamental principles that should be kept in mind is that you should clearly mention the source of the work from where you are referring and that there should be a clear distinction between your original work and the references. It is the author’s duty to clarify the user that the references are not his own work. Also the sources of such reference should be easily found.

Summarizing: While summarizing a main point, the argument or the main idea of an author, then just reference to the original work collectively, without page numbers is sufficient. If a general or well known work in a subject is summarized, the mention of resources is not required. But if you are referring to some numerical data or figures like population of a city or literacy rate of a country, mentioning the source of such data is very important so that the reader can verify the authenticity of such data from the original source.

Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing means referring to the author’s intellection in words of your own, emphasizing the portion of work which is most significant to your subject. While paraphrasing some other author’s ideas, you must be careful to choose the right words so it implies the same meaning and thought that the author wanted to convey. The idea that is conveyed to the readers must be the same, if the same reader would have read the original work.

Paraphrasing must be done using words entirely of your own. Just changing a few words from the original work doesn’t account to paraphrasing. If you just change a few words, and reuse the original it will be called plagiarism. While paraphrasing it is obligatory to mention the original source of work, typically with a page number.

Quoting directly:  As a mean of definition this can be defined as “putting the exact words or phrases of the author within quotes in your dissertation”.  Inexperienced writers usually use quotations directly in their work. Excessive use of quotation within this is not considered as a good practice.  Quotations should be sparingly used, where expressing the idea in your own words becomes very difficult or the phrase is a well known or generally accepted phrase in the subject.

The main idea behind writing of papers or dissertations is to get an idea of your understanding on the subject. If the paper is full off quotations, the main purpose of writing the dissertations gets botched. Quotations must be an exact copy of the original

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