What Sources are Documented
Generally, all published or copyrighted information must be documented. This means anything summarized, paraphrased, or quoted. The same goes as well for any unpublished material. If it's not yours you have to say so: You have to give credit where credit is due.
Here are some types of information that should always be documented:
- Facts not widely known or debatable, especially if their veracity can be challenged in any way.
- Hard evidence such as statistics, graphs, charts, diagrams, or figures unless they are products of your own field research.
- Opinions, claims or assertions that illustrate a point that may be perceived as questionable or controversial.
- Unique Phrasing and Terminology that does not fit your writing style, personal voice or level of academic experience.
The types of information that need not be documented include:
- Information largely considered general knowledge.
- Information that can be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or any of a variety of other sources.
- Information derived from personal experience, observations, or field research.
If you have any difficulty determining whether a piece of information needs to be documented, ask yourself this: Did you possess the information in question before you began your research project or after? You must cite and document information learned about in the course of your work. When in doubt, you should do the same. An ounce of prevention never hurts.