I am finishing my bachelor's thesis, and I built an explainable ai and data visualization tool. For that, I used libraries like d3.js, svelte, tailwindcss, docker, nginx, fastapi, pytorch, tensorflow etc.

For some, pytorch, tensorflow, optuna, they ask you to cite them, so I included it, but I realize now that I used the others to the same extent or even more. But I am not sure if I should cite these too.

I am sorry if this is a bit of a silly question. It is my first academic writing experience.

Thank you for your input.

PS, I found this: How to cite software used to produce data/images? but it doesn't quite apply, because unlike the examples there, these libraries are used to produce my project and I couldn't have done it without.

edit: reading the second answer in the comment posted by anyon below I decide to cite most of them. Though I do find that the answers there are very handwavy and I am still not sure whether I should or should not.

  • I read the first one, not necessarily, for one, as with the link I shared I feel its not quite the same. For example, I built a data visualization tool, I think the libraries might be relevant. But that doesn't answer the question, nor does the answer in the link which IMHO is very handwavy, do I want to give credit? if yes, then yes? I was hoping there is some rules
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 15:12
  • @Anyon the second one is a different type of question, I would not cite all packages nor would I ask that because it would never end. It's more, do I cite everything that I used extensively to build the project and is vital to its working?
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 15:18
  • In order to answer your question better, why do you think you shouldn't? Feb 13, 2023 at 16:00
  • @AzorAhai-him- thanks a lot, to be honest I don't know and I am a little lost. I've been adding them but I am not sure if it is all that relevant and it "feels" like I am doing it wrong.
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


The general rule for citations is to cite what you use. Usually this means giving credit to authors of papers, but it can also apply more generally to software systems that you depend upon and that provide substance to your work. If you use a particular browser or IDE you don't need to cite it, since it adds no substance. But libraries can be different.

And the fact that it is open-source makes no difference in the need (or lack) of citation. Don't confuse copyright with plagiarism. Open source means you don't need prior permission for some things, but doesn't change the citation issue.

The underlying idea is that you don't want to write in such a way that a reader might infer that you created things that you actually did not. That is a form of plagiarism. It is better to over cite than to omit citations in edge cases. Citation is a guard against charges of plagiarism. It may not be possible to know the authors of open-source projects, but you still give them credit by pointing to the work itself.

One way to do this, rather than inline citation, is to have a short section at the end of your work in which you name and link to those libraries and systems on which your work fundamentally applies. For internet resources, give the dates on which they were last accessed, since such things change. Version numbers, etc. are also helpful.

  • Oh, that is a very good explanation. So, when I say, I used d3.js to render the visualizations it is very clear that I didn't do it myself, would you still suggest to cite it?
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:02
  • 1
    If you point to the source, not just list the name it is a citation, actually.
    – Buffy
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:13
  • Oh, so, do I also have to add the reference with author of the package and link in my references, in this example like ... I used d3.js [xx] ? Sorry for the newbie questions :-)
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:22
  • 1
    How you do it is less important than the fact that you make the source clear. If you get to publish it later, then an editor might have requirements for format.
    – Buffy
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:23
  • Got it, thanks a million!!
    – Oliver
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:25

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