4 Reasons Why Referencing Others Is a Good Thing

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Recently, I have seen a lot of people frustrated with others “stealing” their stuff and using it as their own.  This has happened to me as well, and to be honest, it is extremely frustrating.  Personally, I put a lot of work into my posts, writing, and presentations, and when someone just comes along and claims it as their own, it is extremely deflating.  Even when I think that I have an original idea or quote, I google it just to make sure that it is not someone else’s.  People are exposed to so many ideas that it can be confusing to differentiate between what originated with you or someone else. People make mistakes.

But instead of writing a post on why you shouldn’t do that, I wanted to share why it is better to reference the work of others.


  1. It shows that you are well read. In my presentations, I do my best to show the work of others, even though it is my presentation.  I actually try to differentiate my slides between quotes from others (I usually add images to them) and what is mine (black slide, white text, very simple).  I never see sharing the work of others as making me “less than”. I believe it actually shows that I have done a lot of research and thinking in what I am discussing.  The way I see it, there is no negative in sharing the work of others; it shows that you are passionate about your learning and you will look at what others are doing as well. Stealing the work of others though, has huge risks and will only categorize you as a “thought stealer”, not “thought leader”. This leads me to my next point.
  2. It raises up the profession as a whole.  The narrative of education and many educators, hasn’t always been positive.  The way I see it, the more we can share the work of others, the better.  In my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, many people are sharing ideas and quotes of others that I wrote about in the book.  The book was never solely about my ideasbut hopefully sharing the best ideas. I really wanted to highlight there is a lot of great stuff going on in education all over the world, and that together we are better.
  3. Great leaders give credit. If you are in a leadership position, and hate giving credit to the work of others, this will create animosity amongst those you serve.  Sometimes, giving credit to others, even when it is not 100% deserved, helps build up the entire community.  No one wants to be an environment where one person takes credit for everything.  Highlighting the work of others does not only build up that one person, but also models that we should do that for each other as a community. Leading to this last point.
  4. It is an honour to be referenced by someone else. Pay it forward. I have a lot of people who follow me on Twitter, read this blog, and maybe have read my book.  No matter how many people have connected with me, it is a tremendous honour to be referenced at any point, or have my work shared. Whether you have one follower or one million.  Having your work shared is an amazing feeling, and I have been the recipient of this, and I try to share the work of others.  Again, there is only positives when you do this.

There is obviously ethical reasons why you shouldn’t take credit for the work of others.  But the way I see it, the positives far outweigh the negatives (if there are truly any) when we share the work of others. When we go out of our way to highlight the work of others, it lifts up individuals as well as the profession as a whole.


  1. Your book has been referenced so much on Twitter and elsewhere. It’s time I read it. I’m ordering it today. Thanks for writing. I also really like this post.

    January 2, 2016
  2. Elizabeth said:

    Hi George, I really enjoyed reading your article.

    I have been working with teachers and librarians over many years and do find that many, though not all, do not reference as a rule. Especially when creating slides and presentations. I have heard various reasons for this from ‘its for educational purposes so it allowed’ ‘no-one else is going to see it’ and ‘I have not got time’.

    We would like, but do not expect, our students to reference and do not always do it ourselves as we should. I do even include myself in this statement. It takes time to reference properly but we are all so used to finding and using information quickly that giving references is an added hassle and time suck. As you so nicely remind us it is about demonstrating the work you have put in to come to that position or decision. What better reason do we need .

    What I like about your article is you clearly demonstrate the benifits to giving credit which is not just that it is ‘the right thing to do’. Thank you for the reminder.

    January 3, 2016
  3. Jessica Barth said:

    I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to hear you speak at MACUL 2015. You have inspired me with every reading and video of yours. Thank you!

    January 3, 2016

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