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The ethics of writing a scholarly text and how to cite sources used

The ethics of writing a scholarly text and how to cite sources used

When writing your work, you will understandably use documents (i.e. books, articles, etc.) written by other authors. It is important, however, to make clear ín your text what is your own and what has been borrowed from others, i.e. you should always duly reference the source you have used in the form of a bibliographic citation. The obligation to uphold the ethics of citations is set out in the Copyright Act No. 121/2000. Failure to cite sources you have used is considered plagiarism.


Plagiarism is:

- appropriating someone else’s manuscript and publishing it under one’s own name

- appropriating the ideas or results of someone else’s work without specifying the real author

- appropriating part of a text or paragraphs without providing a bibliographic citation

- appropriating an original text and merely making stylistic adjustments


Do not underestimate the risk, because it is very likely that you will be caught a) by your thesis supervisor, or b) by software tools used at universities to compare texts which now exist and can detect copying.


Bibliographic citations should be part of every scholarly publication, and thus also part of a university thesis. They consist of a description that unambiguously identifies a document which the author used when writing his or her work.


General principles:

-        Provide bibliographic citations for all sources which you used in elaborating your work.

-        In the list of bibliographic citations, do not include sources which you did not use for your work.

-        Use the exact information in such a way that it is possible for someone to use the citation to find and obtain the cited source.

-        Use scholarly and trustworthy sources with clear authorship, and always consider whether the source is relevant to your topic.  Do not just rely on Wikipedia, Google, Seznam or other general resources.

Other reasons to include citations

-        By using citations, you demonstrate your knowledge of significant authors in the field and the current state of understanding about the topic.

-        You can confirm your own work by searching for relevant sources on the topic.

-        You demonstrate that you understand the topic and that you have familiarised yourself with it.

-        By using citations, you enable others to find the original document.


Standards and conventions for using citations

The form and order for entering information are determined by the following international standards: ČSN ISO 690 and ČSN ISO 690-2.

In certain cases, other standards are used as well (particularly in foreign scientific journals).

Ask your thesis supervisor which formal guidelines (style, format) to use for citations. Unless stipulated otherwise, always used the standards specified here.

ČSN ISO 690 – contains the rules for writing and referencing bibliographic citations of printed monographic publications and parts thereof, journal articles, contributions to monographs (e.g. conference proceedings) and patent documents.

ČSN ISO 690-2 – sets out the methods for citing electronic sources: monographs, databases, computer programs and parts thereof, electronic serial publications (journals) and parts thereof (articles), electronic bulletin boards, discussion forums and electronic news sites. This applies to electronic publications on relevant data storage devices (CD ROM, disk), as well as to online documents for which it is also necessary to list availability on the computer network.


How to proceed with citations

Using citations involves three basic steps:

  1. creating bibliographic citations
  2. arranging them in a certain uniform manner
  3. creating references in the text to individual bibliographic citations

When writing a scholarly text, one must keep in mind that each reference in the text must correspond to a bibliographic citation in the list of works cited, and that there are formal rules even for the ordering of this list. For this reason, you should select a suitable method of using citations in consideration of what and where you intend to publish. Universities usually require that students comply with valid standards, while certain publishers insist on established conventions.

It is a good idea to consult with your thesis supervisor on how you should use citations in your text.


Ad 1. Creating bibliographic citations

Bibliographic citations according to the ISO 690 and ISO 690-2 standards

Information from the documents should be copied as specified in the original. Always create a citation according to the document that you have. Do not look up missing information such as e.g. the ISBN number. For online sources, specify the URL of the given document, not just the URL of the homepage. Also include sources for which it is difficult to create citations, and get advice on how to formulate them. Double-check the formal elements of your citations (e.g. dates for online sources and the date of assignment/submission of the work).

You can also download citations from library catalogues and from databases (you will find more information in the Aids and tools for using citations section). Different information is needed to create citations for each type of document. The standard describes which document information to enter, in what form and in what order. If you are unsure, consult the original wording of the standard. It is important to use a style for entering citations which is uniform throughout your work.


Ad 2. List of works cited

A list of the complete bibliographic citations for the documents you used in elaborating your work should be included at the end of the main text and before the annexes. Usually, this is a separate section of the work entitled “References”.

The list of References should contain all sources which the author used in the work. This is therefore NOT a list of all publications relevant to the work’s topic. The organisation of the list is governed by the selected citation method. You can order the list of works cited alphabetically by author or using continuous numbering in the text. In English, the former method is more common.


Alphabetical ordering by author – individual publications and other sources are listed alphabetically by the author’s surname or by the publication title (if the author is unknown).

  1. BOHAČKOVÁ, Kamila. Nosiče DVD začínají nabízet program na celý den. Hospodářské noviny, 18. 7. 2001.
  2. NAVRÁTIL, Antonín. Cesty k pravdě či lži : 70 let československého dokumentárního filmu. 2. vyd. Praha : Nakladatelství Akademie múzických umění, 2002. ISBN 80-7331-909-8
  3. SKÝBOVÁ, Anna. České královské korunovační klenoty. Praha : Panorama, 1982.

Ordering by continuous numbering – individual citations are ordered continuously in the order in which they appear in the text. They thus refer to ordered numbers used in the list of works cited.

  1. STREIT, Jakob. Proč děti potřebují pohádky. 1. vyd.  V Praze : Baltazar, 1992, 79 s. ISBN 80-900-307-4-2.
  2. ČERMÁK, Miloš. Řekni heslo! Reflex, 2001, č. 33, s. 40.
  3. Národní knihovna : knihovnické revue. Národní knihovna České republiky. Roč. 1, č. 1, 1990-. Praha : Národní knihovna, 1990-. ISSN 0862-7487.
  4. KREJČÍ, Xenie. Studium korozních vlastností kluzných laků aplikovaných v automobilovém průmyslu : diplomová práce. Ostrava : VŠB-Technická univerzita Ostrava, Fakulta strojní, 2001. 56 s., 3 příl.


Ad 3. References to citations in the text

By using a citation reference in the text, we refer to a document that we used. Literal quotations from a source text and even individual expressions are specified in quotation marks (also called inverted commas), and a citation reference is added. If the text is not quoted literally, a citation reference is added after the relevant sentence or paragraph.


Two methods of referencing citations are used most commonly:


Abbreviated citations in the text – usually, an abbreviated citation is used: author, year of publication and page number, if applicable

For example: “...according to Novák (2004, p. 54)” or “... and according to the theory (Novák, 2004)”.

The References (i.e. the list of works cited) at the end of the main text is not numbered; it is merely ordered alphabetically.


Numbered citations – a reference to the number of a citation in the list of works cited using either superscript, e.g. 22, or brackets, e.g. (22). If you are referencing a specific part of a document, specify the page numbers as well, e.g. “... according to Novák (22, p. 143)”.

Where to find help

Bibliographic citation generator

A citation generator has emerged from the Bibliographic Citations project at Masaryk University in Brno. On the address, you can generate citations according to the ČSN ISO 690 and ČSN ISO 690-2 standards based information that you enter into a form. If you register, you can also save the generated citations in your account, and thus create your own database for later use.


Methodological handbook with examples

An instructional handbook has been created by the Expert Committee for Issues of Electronic Accessibility of University Theses. You can find it here:


You can also request methodological assistance at your faculty library, but do not expect the librarian to elaborate an entire list of references for you.


Specific rules on the AMU Publishing House (NAMU) website




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  2. BOLDIŠ, Petr. Bibliografické citace podle ČSN ISO 690 a ČSN ISO 690-2 [online]. c2001-2006 [cit. 2008-11-09]. Available from: <>.
  3. Citační etika & bibliografické citace [online]. CIKS, 2007 [cit. 2008-11-09]. Available online: <>.
  4. ČSN ISO 690 (01 0197). Dokumentace - Bibliografické citace - Obsah, forma a struktura. Praha : Český normalizační institut, 1996. 31 s.
  5. ČSN ISO 690-2 (01 0197). Informace a dokumentace - Bibliografické citace - Část 2: Elektronické dokumenty nebo jejich části. Praha : Český normalizační institut, 2000. 24 s.
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  7. SYNEK, M.; VÁVROVÁ, H.; SEDLÁČKOVÁ, H. Jak psát diplomové a jiné práce [online]. Praha : VŠE, 2002. Available online: <>.
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