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LAB Guide to Publishing and Open Science: How and why to cite?

Standards for citation

The citation guidelines and practices used in LAB publications are based on national and international standards.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's ideas, text or pictures without adequately crediting that source. It's basically the same thing as stealing: you are taking someone else's work and presenting it as your own. This is considered a serious offense and is easily avoided by adding references whenever you are using sources.

Self-plagiarism is commonly described as recycling or reusing one’s own specific words from previously published texts. In short, self-plagiarism is any attempt to take any of your own previously published text, papers, or research results and make it appear brand new.

Read more:

Referencing as an essential part of academic writing

Accurate references are an essential aspect of research communication and give readers an overview of the quality and reliability of your work. Make sure that you correctly reference all the resources you have used.

The ideas that you refer to need to be made explicit by a system of citation. The bibliography should include details for everything that you cite in your work. Without citations the reader assumes you to be the author of all the information and ideas you put forward. Not using citations when they are due may lead to accusations of plagiarism.

A reference consists of two parts: in-text citation and bibliographic reference.

in-text citation:  inserted in the text directly after the information being sourced (in brackets)
bibliographic reference: appears at the end of the work and contains sufficient information of the resource

 The list of references contains only the resources you have cited in your work.

Citing digital resources

In addition to indicating the origin of the information and ideas presented, citations also provide documentation about how and where to find each resource, so readers can easily access and review the materials on their own.

This same principle applies to both printed and digital resources, with one exception: the bibliographic details of digital resources must also contain information on the availability of the resource. This is why the date of citation and a link (URL, DOI or URN) must always be included. Both the availability and the content of web-based resources (websites, blogs, articles,...) can change overnight, so it is essential to inform your readers of when and where the information you are using has been retrieved.

What about scientific articles?

Scientific publications usually have a persistent identifier (DOI or URN) which makes their availability more reliable. This still doesn't mean their contents are carved in stone, as even the most distinguished scientific articles can undergo updates or even be withdrawn. This is why an increasing number of databases are using Crossmark to inform readers of  the current status of the article and whether the content has been updated, corrected or retracted. This is also why the availability information must be added also to the more scientific resources, whether retrieved from open access journals or via the library's databases. Always use DOI or URN in the references whenever they are available.

Detailed instructions on how to reference digital resources in LAB publications can be found here.

Place of citation

If the referenced information only applies to one sentence, the source is either stated in the text or citation is added to the end of the sentence before full stop.

If the referenced information concerns more than one sentence, in-text citation is placed at the end of the last sentence after full stop. In Finnish research literature, a full stop is often added also to the parentheses of the reference, so that the reference appears as if it were its own sentence. You rarely see this in international texts. The most important thing is that the author chooses one practice and stays with it throughout the entire text.

If the reference concerns the entire text paragraph, in-text citation can either be added at the end of the paragraph, or the reference can be placed in the text in a way that makes it clear that the information of the entire paragraph is from that same source.


Finnish citation right gives you the permission to use tables, figures, images and photographs in an academic presentation, if the image is discussed in the presentation, or if the image clarifies or demonstrates the text notably. The citation right does not give you the permission to alter the image. It is also good to note that citing an image  will not make you the copyright holder of that image. The source of the image must always be mentioned.

If you want to use an image in other ways than the ones mentioned above, for example you want to use an image to illustrate your article, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder or use an image whose copyright holder has made the images openly available for reuse (Creative Commons -licencing or public domain).

Images are treated as any other resource, so you need to use in-text citations and include them in your list of references. You can also make a separate list for images in your bibliography.

For more detailed instructions on how to use and cite images, please visit ImagOA.

In-text citations

The in-text citation consists of the author's surname, publication year and page number(s). 

When citing specific information or idea, the page numbers are added to the in-text citation, in condition that they are provided. The only exception are cases when you are making a general reference to a broader approach or way of thinking and thus referring to a publication as a whole.


  • ... (Mattila 2015, 32).
  • ... (Lahtinen & Järvinen 2017). If there are two authors, both are included in the reference.
  • ... (Hirsjärvi et al. 2009). If there are more than two authors, mention only the first one and substitute the rest with "et al."
  • ... (Huovinen 2009a). When referencing to multiple publications by the same author and year, the references are distinguished by adding a lower case letter after publication year.
  • ... (Huovinen 2009a; Mattila 2015, 40). The text may also include references to multiple sources.

Secondary sources  

As  a  rule,  primary  sources  are  used.  If  a  primary  source  is  not  found,  the  author  must  indicate that the information originates from a secondary source:  

  • Robson (1995) divides traditional research strategies into three groups: tests,survey and case study (Hirsjärvi et al. 2009, 134).


  • Traditional research strategies are divided into three groups: tests, survey and case study (Robson 1995, according to Hirsjärvi et al. 2009, 134).  

Only the secondary source is entered as the source in the list of references. In the above example, the source is Hirsjärvi et al.

Citing images

If you are using an unpublished image, add the full name of the author after caption:

Image 1. A dog (Image: Maija Meikäläinen)

If the  image has been published before, cite is as a text reference, with bibliographic information added to the list of references:

Image 2. A cat. (Virtanen 2020, 36)

NOTE! If you've modified the image cited (please check the permitted use of the image), cite the original image and add the name of the modifier to the image caption. 

Image 1. Caption. (PxHere 2021, modified by Jane Smith)