Unreferenced sources

code | scenario | smart strategies | consequences

Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters

1. It shall be an offence for a student knowingly:

(f) to submit any academic work containing a purported statement of fact or reference to a source which has been concocted.

Wherever in the Code an offence is described as depending on "knowing", the offence shall likewise be deemed to have been committed if the person ought reasonably to have known.

Scenario – Unreferenced sources

It is your first year in university and your History instructor asks you to write an essay/paper on a specific topic that has been discussed in class. While researching the topic, you find information in several books but you also find information on the internet. When writing your essay, you use text/sections from your books and the internet. However, you forget whether the sources you used came from your books or the internet. You also forget which books provided you with certain pieces of information. You are confused and unsure of whether this would be a problem but you decide to proceed since your paper is due in two days. You do your best to use citations while guessing the appropriate book used and relevant page of the information you found. However, you fail to cite what you found on the internet. You submit the essay for credit in the History course.

The Issue

You cannot cite information if you are unsure of whether it belongs to a specific source and simply guess page numbers from a book. It is important to recognize the appropriate author of each source in order to maintain academic integrity and respect the hard work of scholars who have provided you with valuable knowledge. Websites also offer lots of information but it is important to make sure any website used is an academically reliable source and cited in your paper. You cannot present someone else's work as your own in any situation; even if you are unable to locate the name of the author. In this instance, if you fail to cite your sources appropriately, you may be charged under the Code with two academic violations; providing a reference to a source which has been concocted and plagiarism.

Smart Strategies

  • Citations, quoting and paraphrasing; Taking notes; Internet Sources; Information literacy and academic integrity
  • You should speak to the instructor and notify him/her of your uncertainty in citing your sources. It is important to be open and honest with your instructor when submitting an assignment without appropriate citations. If you wait until you are approached by the instructor, your case may be forwarded to the Office of the Dean for resolution.
  • If you are unsure of whether you are committing an act of plagiarism, you should always clarify the material with your instructor prior to submission.

Range of Consequences

For a discussion of consequences see Key Consequences.