Documenting your evidence, noting your sources and a niggly note on plagiarism and originality.

Originality does not consist in reinventing the wheel and pretending you are the first to have thought of it. That is plagiarism. Originality consists in acknowledging that others have been here before you but that you are looking at things in your own way and for your own purposes. I think I shall repeat that. Originality consists in looking at all problems, young and old, in your own way. By all means quote, by all measn use other people’s knowledge, then acknowledge the source generously, and claim the truth of it for yourself. Your truth is the way you look at the world around you.

You must look at every old problem from the perspective of your own unique background. Remember that your life is like your fingerprint, it is unique to you. Looking at a problem from the basis of your own experience and in your own way is truly original. That does not mean you cannot enrich your own experience by learning from others.


Nevertheless, plagiarism is wrong. Why? Because you appear to be pretending that what you have read elsewhere was thought up and formulated by you. The point is you have not made it your own. It is not yours, you have not looked at it yourself, and as such  by looking at it yourself, by struggling with it. And your failure to look properly means that you have not understood it fully. You will get your diploma but you will only keep the job by making theft into a habit. Plagiarism is fraudulent. It is like counterfeiting money. And if that was not your intention and you manage to persuade people of that, you will come over as merely negligent, rather naive and above all lazy. Either way you lose.


On the other hand quoting, paraphrasing and using other people’s information is not only accepted, it is a necessary and important part of discourse. It looks and is professional to quote, cite and acknowledge your sources while using them to your own purpose.


some definitions

A bibliography is a list of sources arranged in a particular order: alphabetically, chronologically, systematically, you name it.


A footnote is a little piece of text at the foot of a page, which is linked to a sentence in the main text by way of a symbol. A footnote is used to explain something, to give information that is interesting but not immediately relevant to the purpose of the main argument and to refer the reader to the source from which you took the information our to show other relevant literature.


An endnote is like a footnote, more generally used for the listing of references. A hyperlink is a link in a computer document or web page, which can link you directly to another document, a picture, a web-page, a reference, etc.


The standard way of noting your sources in a piece of writing is as follows:


Listing a book in a bibliography
There are many ways of listing books in a bibliography. It does not really matter which one you chose, what is important is that you are consistent in the way you do it. All books must be listed according to the same template. Here is a well tried method:


1. First note the surname of the author, 2. then his or her initials, 3. (if he is not the author but the editor of the book then write (ed.) after his initials, 4. then The title of the book in cursive -or underlined-, 5. the place of publication, 6. the publisher, 7. the date of publication. 8. (then, if applicable, the date of the first edition in brackets), 9. then the relevant pages from which you have taken your information: e.g. pp. 113-118. A couple of examples:

Howard, Ebenezer, Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Powys, Attic Books, 1993, (1898)  p. 7




Leach, Neil, (ed.) Rethinking Architecture, a reader in cultural theory, London, Routledge, 1997.




Leeuwen, Thomas A.P. van,  The springboard in the pond, An intimate history of the swimming pool, Cambridge Mass., MIT Press, 1998.


If there is more than one author then:


Moore, Charles, (et. al.) The Place of Houses, Three Architects suggest ways to build and inhabit houses, New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1979, (1974).


The procedure is almost the same: 1. Author’s surname, 2. Initials, 3. "Title of the article in inverted commas," 4. Name of the magazine in cursive or underlined, 5. Volume number, 6. issue number, 7. (date in brackets), 8.  relevant pages.


An example:

Lyotard, Jean-François, “The sublime and the avant-garde,” Artforum, 20, no. 8, (April 1982), p. 38.


For an article published in a collection the procedure is much like the magazine article format, except that the editor or the translator of the book is menitoned after the title and before the placename. An example:


Barthes, Roland, “Semiology and Urbanism,” in: Elements of Semiology, Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (trans.), New York, Hill and Wang, 1968.

If the full titles of your sources are placed in your bibliography, then for all foot-notes and/or end-notes all you have to write down is: Author (Date of Publication in brackets) relevant pages. An example can be found in the footnote referred to at the end of this sentence.[1]


Web pages

There is no agreed format yet as to how document references to web pages. It is made difficult by the fact that these web pages are not stable. In other words they change over time and can simply be deleted. What I would suggest is that you use the following format.


Author or owner of the web page, “Title or name of the web page” URL address, and date that the sire was last modified or visited.


An example:


Vitaliano Trevisan & Enrico Mitrovich, “RuinS On-Line”, <> reviewed 15.4.1998.


Manuscripts and other unpublished documents are usually described, giving the archival number (if any), and naming the institutions which holds the archive.


While doing research in a library or archive, do not be tempted to note down your sources "in-a-minute"




Write down the details of every book that you consult and the page number of every page that you take information from.

[1] An example: Barthes (1968) p. 118.