so basically I have recently started to teach my own course for the first time. In the past, I mainly taught professors in the department that were on leave etc and they normally supplied me with their teaching materials, so this is the first time I am completely writing my own notes/lecture slides.

Now, I am teaching a history survey course and when writing lecture notes/slides, I have mainly relied on the course textbook and a few secondary sources. The question now is whether I need to provide references at all if I use the work of others in this context? I do not copy anything verbatim of course and also dont claim anywhere that what is on the slides is my original work. However, while I normally rely on several sources for my lecture slides, at times several slides in a row more or less summarise a few pages from the textbook/another source. Would I be expected to give a reference for this? [I should add that I do provide references if I borrow a whole chart etc. from a book].

I have to say that at least in the humanities and in my own career as a student and teacher, I have never seen such references. In fact, a criticism of students about some of my former professors was that they basically just go through the textbook in lectures. So, unless I am missing something, my guess is that I dont have to provide references [I dont mean what would be ethically "perfect" but rather what is accepted practice in academia]. However, now that I am doing it myself, I thought I could ask here just to make sure.

  • Not an answer to your question, but my own practice was not to cite material from a required textbook but to provide a tiny-type citation on any slide that included material, other than well-known facts in the discipline. that came from another source.
    – Bob Brown
    Feb 24, 2020 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


You should certainly cite your sources. Not for each and every use, a general statement like "Based on textbook and others" on your first slide (or slide of each class) should be enough. Add references to slides/classes as needed for people who want to dig deeper.

  • Interesting. Can't say I have seen that much (if at all) in the humanities.
    – user94975
    Feb 24, 2020 at 3:43
  • Also, would that not be inaccurate as well? If I just gave a sort of reference list, that would not tell anyone what information came from what source
    – user94975
    Feb 24, 2020 at 4:03
  • @Polsci54 so you suggest we don’t have to cite or reference others work when we use it. Is that not plagiarism? Should we set a good, correct and profesdional example to students?
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 24, 2020 at 4:36
  • @SolarMike I think there is a difference between a piece of published scholarship and lecture slides that nowhere purport to be original work. Also, I am simply asking because my experience (again this might be field specific, I am in the humanities) I am yet to see a lecturer provide references.
    – user94975
    Feb 24, 2020 at 5:02
  • @Polsci54 why don’t you provide an answer to that effect and we will then see if you are correct. If you are, I will delete my comment.
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 24, 2020 at 5:05

As it was suggested to me to post this in the form of an answer as well, here is my thinking about this again:

My reasoning behind not needing to provide references is:

1) Lecture slides do not purport to be an original piece of scholarship. Therefore, the rules for referencing are also not the same.

2) From my experience as a student and junior colleague, I am yet to see a lecturer in my field (history/humanities) that provides references on his/her powerpoint slides. The only exception are the occasional slide with "further readings" that you sometimes find. So it also does not seem to be an accepted habit (at least in some fields) to provide references.

You must log in to answer this question.