Skip to Main Content

Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL)

For a more in-depth guide on how to cite, please visit the UBC Library Guide "How to Cite."

Citing Sources

Citations and references indicate when words or ideas are not your own. Proper citation and reference:

  • Gives credit and respect to the original author(s)
  • Allows readers to locate the original source(s)
  • Strengthens the credibility of your report
If you don't cite your sources, it's plagiarism.

When you use someone else's words or ideas, you must indicate that the information is not your own by properly citing and giving credit to your sources. This applies to any type of resource, written or otherwise (including books, articles, websites, images, personal communications, etc.).

You don't need to cite your own experiences, observations, results, ideas, or conclusions. Nor do you need to cite information that is considered common knowledge. Common knowledge is information that is generally known by many people. If you're uncertain if something is common knowledge, ask your instructor;or a librarian!

Plagiarism is the theft of words or ideas from others and even yourself, and it is a form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism can range from accidental to deliberate, but even if it is an accident, it's still plagiarism. Self plagiarism occurs when you utilize the same (or nearly the same) assignment for two separate classes without permission. At UBC, if you plagiarize, you could receive a zero on your assignment, or even face suspension from the university. Citing your sources helps your avoid plagiarism and protects your academic integrity.

Learn more about academic integrity and plagiarism here: Understanding Academic Integrity

You can integrate sources into your report by paraphrasing or quoting the material. Paraphrasing is restating an author’s words or ideas in your own words, while quoting is using the author’s exact words.

In general, there are two parts to a citation:

  1. In-text citation
    • Appears in the body of your paper, indicating the information you are using is from another source
  2. Full reference
    • Appears at the end of your paper, generally in the references or bibliography section
    • This is where the reader will find the full publication details for all material used to write your report
But how do you know how to format your in-text citations and references, and what publication details to include?

There are numerous citation styles, which ensure your in-text citations and references are written consistently. Your employer or instructor will usually specify which citation style they would like you to use.

Citation styles specify:

  • Which publication details to include (author name(s), publication year, publication title, etc.)
  • Order of appearance for publication details
  • Formatting conventions (when to italicize, punctuation, etc.)
  • Order of appearance of entries in your bibliography or reference list

Some common citation styles for engineering are APA (American Psychological Association) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). For example, let’s look at how the same work can be cited in each citation style:

  • APA
    • In-text citation (paraphrased)
      • The operation of electric power networks are essential in post-disaster mitigation, but are composed of fragile and vulnerable equipment not designed for horizontal movements (Vanzi, 2000).
    • Full reference
      • Vanzi, I. (2000). Structural upgrading strategy for electric power networks under seismic action. Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 29(7), 1053-1073.
  • IEEE
    • In-text citation (paraphrased)
      • The operation of electric power networks are essential in post-disaster mitigation, but are composed of fragile and vulnerable equipment not designed for horizontal movements [1].
    • Full reference
      • [1] I. Vanzi, “Structural upgrading strategy for electric power networks under seismic action,” Earthquake Eng. Struct. Dyn., vol. 29, no. 7, pp. 1053-1073, June 2000.

This is a paraphrased passage from an article, cited in APA style. This is the same paraphrased passage, cited in IEEE style. In both citation styles, there is an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased sentence, and a corresponding complete entry in the references list. The full references contain similar publication details. Format of in-text citations and references are designated by the citation style. Here, we have correctly and clearly given credit to the original author.

You may also want to use another’s image or diagram in your report. Some styles have specific instructions for image citation, but generally you cite as you would any other type of work. Here’s an example in APA style:

  • Caption:
    • Figure 1. Three directions of earthquake action: horizontal axial, horizontal transverse, and longitudinal (Wu, Lu, Huang, Wu, & Qiao, 2015, p. 2)
  • Full reference:
    • Wu, X., Lu, H., Huang, K., Wu, S., & Qiao, W. (2015). Frequency spectrum method-based stress analysis for oil pipelines in earthquake disaster areas. PLoS ONE, 10(2), 1-24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115299

You should have an in-text citation within the figure caption, and a full reference in the references section.

You don’t have to memorize the details of each citation style - there are numerous guides and manuals to consult as needed. There are also other styles you may be instructed to use.

You can find more information about citing and citation styles at How to Cite, from UBC Library.

Finding & Using Images

When looking for images to use in presentations or research projects, it is important to find images you are allowed to use and to properly cite the images you do use. The guide below is a great place to start:

Citing Standards

Most style guides do not offer guidance on citing standards. The examples provided here have been drawn from several sources to provide some guidance on citing standards. If the information here does not provide enough detail about citing standards, ask a librarian for help. 

Your citation needs to include enough information for anyone interested to be able to track down the original document.*

  • Issuing agency (or publication name) 
  • Standard number
  • Standard title
  • Publication date
  • Specific version
    • Standards may be reprinted, altered/reissued by a number of different standard organizations
Database generated citations

As with any database generated citation that can be copied and pasted into your document, you should check for errors. Databases can help retrieve the essential information required to generate a citation, but should be checked by referring to the specific style guide to ensure accuracy.

When using standards retrieved from ASTM Compass, there is an option to "Cite this Document". ASTM defaults to their own citation style, but it also offers examples from major styles such as APA, Chicago and MLA.

Example of the ASTM preferred style:

ASTM F1089-18 Standard Test Method for Corrosion of Surgical Instruments, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA,  2018,

For other citation styles, you may still need to apply additional formatting when copying and pasting into your reference list depending on the style's guidelines.

*Information in this guide has been adopted and adapted with permission from the University of Iowa Library's guide on citing standards

Consistency is essential with any citation style.

Reference list format: Organization. (year). Title of the standard (Standard No. 1234). Retrieved from http://xxxxx


Canadian Standards Association. (2014). Canadian highway bridge design code (CAN/CSA Standard No. S6-14). Retrieved from

In text format: (Organization that made the standard, year).

Example for first time cited: (Canadian Standards Association [CSA], 2014)

Example for subsequent in text citations: (CSA, 2014)


See these additional resources for more help:

Consistency is essential with any citation style.

Reference list format: [Reference Number] Title of Standard, Standard number, date. [Online]. Available: http://xxxxx


[1] IEEE Standard for High-Voltage Testing Techniques, IEEE Standard 4, 2013. [Online]. Available:

In text format: [citation #]. Square brackets around the citation number.

Your written text about the citation [1] and your text after the citation explaining why it was used.


See these additional resources for more help: